As you’re learning how to speak Spanish, it’s a great idea to learn about the culture and Spanish traditions at the same time! Here, Honolulu, HI tutor Jinan B. shares 3 important holidays you’ll want to get familiar with…
Are you looking for some fun and productive ways to learn Spanish? Check out these three holiday-themed tips!
Whether you’re gearing up for Cinco de Mayo, preparing for Christmas, or just wanting to brush up on your language skills in general, these ideas will help you get ahead. So put on your sombrero and get started learning – ¡buena suerte! (Good luck!)
What Are the 5 Main Holidays in Spain?
Spain is a country with a rich history and culture, and its holidays reflect this. Some of the most important holidays in Spain are listed below.
- Carnaval: This holiday is celebrated in February or March, before Lent. It is a time of parties and celebrations, with people dressing up in costumes and going to balls. Carnaval is also known for its food, with special dishes served during this time.
- Easter: Easter is one of the most important holidays in the Christian calendar, and it is celebrated extensively in Spain. Processions are held throughout the country, and many Spanish cities host huge Easter markets.
- Fiesta de San Fermín: This festival takes place in Pamplona every July and features bullfights, traditional music, and folk dancing. It is one of the most popular festivals in Spain, attracting visitors from all over the world.
- La Tomatina: La Tomatina is a unique festival that takes place in the small town of Buñol. Every August, participants throw tomatoes at each other in a massive food fight. The festival has been held annually since 1945.
- Los Reyes Magos: This holiday is celebrated on January 6th, also known as Three Kings Day/
Of course, el Día de los Muertos, el Día de los Reyes, y el Año Nuevo/Nochevieja están all major Spanish holidays too – more on these three Spanish holidays later in the post.
If you’re curious about which Spanish holidays you should be celebrating, be sure to ask your Spanish instructor for advice.
You can learn more about the benefits of learning Spanish via Spanish lessons by checking out the video below:
What is the Biggest National Holiday In Spain?
Spain is a country with a rich culture and history, and its national holidays reflect that. The biggest national holiday in Spain is La Fiesta Nacional de España, which is also known as Día de la Hispanidad.
This holiday celebrates the Spanish language and culture, and it is held on October 12th. On this day, Spaniards all over the country come together to celebrate their heritage. There are parades and festivals, and people dress up in traditional Spanish clothing. It is a time for family and friends to get together and enjoy the day.
La Fiesta Nacional de España is a special day for Spaniards, and it is a time when the whole country comes together to celebrate.
What Are Popular Holidays in Spain?
Learning about Hispanic holidays is a wonderful way to learn specific vocabulary and increase your understanding of the cultural aspects of the Spanish language. The Day of the Dead, the New Year/New Year’s Eve, and Epiphany are three widely-celebrated Hispanic holidays that are important to become familiar with. After reading about these Spanish traditions, you might even be inspired to go practice your Spanish in a Spanish-speaking country and enjoy the festivities at the same time!
1. el Día de los Muertos
The first holiday is the Day of the Dead (el Día de los Muertos), a tradition that you might already be familiar with, as it has spread from Mexico to the United States. On this day, family members gather to honor their deceased loved ones with elaborate celebrations. They create an altar (el altar) within their house that they decorate with photos of the deceased, as well as the deceased’s favorite foods and drinks and a circular bread that represents the cycle of life. Another bread also central to the Day of the Dead is el pan de muertos, which has a sign of the cross on top of it. Family members will also go to the cemetery (el cementerio) to decorate the tombs (decorar las tumbas) with flowers (las flores). They remain there until midnight (medianoche).
2. el Año Nuevo/Nochevieja
The New Year/New Year’s Eve (el Año Nuevo/Nochevieja) is celebrated with festivities throughout the Hispanic world in a variety of ways. Two especially interesting traditions are those of Ecuador and Spain. In Ecuador, larger-than-life figures of key individuals from the previous year are displayed and then burned at midnight. In Spain, people consume 12 grapes (las uvas) with each strike of the clock (el reloj) at midnight. If all of the grapes are consumed in time, it symbolizes 12 months (doce meses) of good luck (buena suerte).
3. el Día de los Reyes
Another interesting Hispanic holiday that is also celebrated in the United States (although to a lesser degree than in the Hispanic world) is Epiphany (el Día de los Reyes). This day recognizes the existence of God (Dios) in the human form as Jesus Christ. What makes this Spanish tradition especially fun is that it relates to children. Just as the three wise men (los reyes magos) visited Jesus Christ as an infant, so do the three wise men visit homes before dawn (el alba) on January 6th (el seis de enero) to leave Christmas gifts (los regalos de Navidad) for children.
Got all that? Here’s a handy infographic for a quick run-down:
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How Do You Say “Holiday” in Spanish?
One of the first things you learn when you study a new language is how to say the days of the week and the months of the year.
In Spanish, the word for “holiday” is “fiesta” – yes, like party!
However, you quickly realize that there are many more words for time periods than just these. In Spanish, there are a variety of words used to describe different holidays.
While some, like Christmas and Easter, are taken directly from English, others have more unique names. For example, “All Saints’ Day” is “Día de los Santos,” and “Corpus Christi” is “Cuerpo de Cristo.”
There are also a number of holidays that are specific to Spanish-speaking countries, such as “Día de la Independencia” in Mexico and “Día de las Américas” in Puerto Rico.
Learning the different words for holidays is a great way to expand your vocabulary and better understand the culture of Spanish-speaking countries.
Other Holidays in Spanish Speaking Countries
In addition to the well-known holidays of Christmas and Easter, Spanish speaking countries celebrate a number of other holidays throughout the year.
One of the most popular is Carnaval, which is celebrated in February or March depending on the region. Carnaval typically involves a week of parties and parades, culminating in the burning of an effigy on Ash Wednesday.
Another major holiday is Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, which is observed in November. This holiday honors deceased loved ones with altars decorated with flowers, food, and other items meant to attract their spirits back to Earth. There are also a number of regional holidays that vary from place to place.
For example, in Puerto Rico, people celebrate San Juan Bautista Day with a series of dances and parties. No matter what the holiday, Spanish speaking countries know how to celebrate in style!
National Spanish Holidays – A Wealth of Information!
As you continue to learn Spanish, you will find even greater significance in these holidays as your understanding of Hispanic culture increases. In addition, these holidays are simply a few examples of the many festivities that occur throughout the year in the Hispanic world.
You can practice the vocabulary associated with these holidays as you encounter Spanish speakers by asking questions (for example, “¿Cómo celebra usted el Día de los Muertos?”) and sharing your own cultural holidays (“Aquí en los Estados Unidos, nosotros…”). The more fun you can have learning Spanish conversation and vocabulary, the more likely you are to practice frequently and consistently.
How will you be spending your Spanish holiday this year? While you’re relaxing and enjoying time with family and friends, why not take the opportunity to learn a new language? Spanish is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world, so it’s a great option if you want to start learning a foreign language.
And thanks to these three holiday-themed Spanish lessons, it can be fun too! So consider this – by using your holiday downtime to learn some basic Spanish phrases, you’ll be ahead of the curve when it comes time for your next vacation. ¡Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo!
Jinan B. tutors in Honolulu, HI. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, teaching various courses including Community Nutrition, Concepts in Nutrition Education, and Advanced Child and Adolescent Nutrition. Learn more about Jinan here!
Photo by Jenny Huey