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Capturing the Galician Culture in Spain

February 9th, 2010

galicia-spain-map-location.jpgFor many tourists, Spain is like a banana — it consists of the Costas and Madrid is in there somewhere. Tourism abounds and hotels are filled with people in search of sea, sand, drink, and nightlife. Yet Spain is around five times the size of England and the southern coastal resorts represent only a small percentage of this beautiful country.

Some twelve hours’ drive to the north, one reaches Galicia, where rainfall exceeds that of England but summer temperatures often surpass any of those in British history. The land is green, rivers and waterfalls adorn the mountains, and the natives are self-sufficient. Whilst it may be a hard life, its people certainly know how to party.

If you are lucky enough to visit a fiesta (party) in this still natural part of Spain, you will experience what can be best described as a village party or a community reunion. These gatherings are about bringing together history, the meeting of generations for a good old knees-up. The people who attend may have travelled from the other side of Spain because they have some link with the immediate area; for example, perhaps one of their parents was born in that village or maybe some part of the family still lives there. For such an important event, rain does not stop the festivities; if necessary, shelter may be found under a bridge or in a barn close by.

A fiesta may be for two or three nights, usually starting on the Friday when the pancetada (pronounced “panther tadda”) announces the start of the festivities. This first evening welcomes all in attendance, with an abundance of bacon butties and village wine, as well as fireworks to announce the celebration. You will be forgiven for thinking that nobody will be interested in the old-fashioned music coming from the makeshift stage that has been erected on a piece of spare land, but the truth is that the sound will appeal to all ages. This is because the night in question is not about the music but about the gathering of family, from the newborn to the great grandparents. There is no self-imposed restriction regarding age and babies don’t have to go to bed at any prescribed hour. Whilst the parents make merry, they have the comfort of knowing that their offspring are safe, as almost everyone is known to everyone else and all are keeping watchful eyes on the youngsters.

The music might start as late as eleven at night, then after an hour or so, people will return to their homes to eat, coming back for the second half later. For those who prefer to stay at the fiesta ground, the bar stall (which will sell all types of alcoholic drinks) may remain open so that you can pour your own drink, paying later when the bartender or villager in charge of the drinks reappears. The partying might go on until the early hours, after which satisfied families then return to their homes with the thought of more nights to come.

The Costas have been popular for many years, where holidaymakers indulge in the pleasures offered, sometimes without ever learning of the Spanish culture. The regular visitors to Galicia and those who have since chosen to live there have quickly recognised the hard life yet laid-back community spirit in this unspoilt part of Spain. A local fiesta is an ideal opportunity to experience this culture and to enjoy its people. The welcome you will receive will have a lasting effect.


This article was supplied to us by Denise Watson from Constant Content.


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