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The History Man

This blog contains interesting facts about the history of Spain and things Spanish.

Politics in Spain
Thursday, May 4, 2023

A simple introduction to the political system in Spain

Spain is classified as a democratic constitutional monarchy. This means that the ruling monarch acts as the largely ceremonial head of state. 

The democratically elected prime minister, meanwhile, acts as the head of the national government. 

The current political system in Spain has been in place since La Transición. This was a period in the late 1970s that saw the country transition from dictatorship to democracy under the former king, Juan Carlos I, after decades of General Francisco Franco’s military rule. 

This transition involved the enactment of the Spanish constitution in 1978. This serves as the framework for the current national and regional political systems.

The current head of state is King Felipe VI., who came to the throne in 2014 following the abdication of his father, Juan Carlos. 

The current leader of the national government is Pedro Sánchez, head of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE). He became Prime Minister in June 2018 as the head of a coalition government.


Political parties in Spain

There are a number of political parties in Spain, and many of them operate at national, regional, and local levels. Here is a brief overview of the main political parties in Spain:

  • Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE): Founded in 1879 and known as the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party in English, PSOE is the oldest party currently active in Spain. It has been in government longer than any other political party in modern democratic Spain. The party has a largely progressive ideology.  It is led by Pedro Sanchez.

  • Partido Popular (PP): Formed back in 1976 by Manuel Fraga Iribarne, a Spanish professor and politician under Franco’s dictatorship, the Popular Party (in English) has a liberal-conservative, Christian-democratic ideology. The party was in power until 2018 and is currently in opposition and led by Alberto Nuñez Feijoo.


  • Unidas Podemos (UP): This alliance of smaller progressive parties was created in the run-up to the 2016 general election. These include Podemos, Izquierda Unida, and other smaller parties. The party has been in the governing coalition with PSOE since the 2020 general election. UP is currently led by Yolanda Díaz Pérez.


  • Ciudadanos (Cs): Known as Citizens in English, this party came into being in Catalonia back in 2006. It is a liberal-conservative, pro-European party. Since then, Ciudadanos‘ fortunes have varied significantly. The current party president is Inés Arrimadas.


  • Vox: Former members of the Partido Popular founded this anti-immigration, nationalist party in 2013. It has risen in popularity over recent elections, both on a national and regional level. Vox is led by Santiago Abascal.


Local politics in Spain

Local government in Spain operates at the municipal level, with residents electing local councillors who then choose a mayor (alcalde). 

The mayor then appoints a board of governors for the local municipality. In Spain, local municipalities are responsible for the local police, traffic policy, urban planning, social services, and certain taxes.


With thanks to 


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Spring forward, Fall back
Saturday, March 25, 2023

This is a good way to remember which way the clocks change at the end of March and the end of October. This Sunday, at 2.00 am Central European Time, in 70 countries, including most of Europe, Daylight Saving kicks in and we move our clocks and watches forward one hour. But when and why did this come about?



Introduced during the First World War in 1916, the idea then was to save coal supplies. Nowadays it’s about having longer days as daylight extends into the evening, and latterly, with the energy crisis, it’s more about cutting down on electricity consumption.

As for us here in Andalucía, where it currently gets light at around 7.15 am and darkness comes at 8.00 pm, we shall have to wait until 8.15 am for daybreak, yet sundown will be an hour later, giving us longer evenings.


Spain in wrong time zone?

By the way, did your known that the Spanish mainland is in the wrong time zone? Look at a map. Spain is on the same longitude as the UK, Portugal, Morocco and the Canary Islands.

In the past Spain was in the same time zone, Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), as these other countries. This arrangement persevered for 40 years, meaning Spain functioned on the same time as places like the United Kingdom, Portugal and Morocco.

However, just prior to the outbreak of the Second World War and during the last year of the Spanish Civil War, the nationalist Falangist forces attempted to move away from GMT to align themselves with Nazi Germany.

Though the move was ultimately blocked, and GMT re-established in 1939, it didn’t take long for Franco’s government to soon attempt the move once again.

It was changed by Franco as a favour to Hitler, so that Spain, officially neutral during the Second World War, would fall into line with German time. And it has never been changed back. Perhaps if it did, Spain would benefit from a more sensible working day, ie people would get up earlier and could start work earlier and finish earlier than the present 8.00 or even 9.00 pm. For example, most shops don’t open till 10.00 am, somewhat late compared to other advanced European nations.


Adopting ‘Nazi Time’

On March 16th 1940, the clocks jumped from 23:00h to 00:00h to display the same time as Nazi Germany and other Nazi-occupied countries such as France and the Ndetherlands. This was an entirely politically motivated move to show support to the fascist government of Germany and showed no consideration for the natural cycle of the sun in Spain. According to the original 24-hour division of the world, Spain’s latitudinal position meant that GMT was the most natural time-zone for it to follow.

Many in Spain believed that the clocks would eventually return to GMT when the war was over, yet this never happened.


An enduring anachronism

As a result, many believe that today Spain is living in the wrong time zone and that this historic move in 1940 is behind what is Spain’s relatively late schedule. Lunch breaks typically run from 2pm to 4pm while dinner is often not before 9pm or 10pm.

Some claim that living on the same time zone as Germany leaves Spain ‘out of sync’, possibly even leading to unhealthy lifestyles with late nights being the norm even for children.


Is there an intention to change?

Perhaps all this is about to change, as in 2016 plans were announced to return Spain to GMT, thereby restoring the country to its original time zone. This move may help Spain do more efficient business with other European countries by aligning its working hours more closely with those of its neighbours.



Don’t forget to change your clocks and watches. Your mobile, tablet, laptop and computer should do update automatically.



© The History Man


Tags: Canary Islands, Central European Time, clock, computer, daylight saving, Franco, Greenwich Mean Time, GMT, History Man, Hitler, Morocco, nazi, nazism, Netherlands, Portugal, time zone, United Kingdom, UK, watch

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Día de Andalucía – Tuesday 28 February 2023
Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Andalucía Day marks the anniversary of a referendum held on 28 February, 1980 when a large majority of voters supported the referendum for Andalucía to become one of the 17 autonomous communities in Spain, following Spain’s democratisation after nearly forty years of the Franco dictatorship. 

General Franco died in November 1975 and was succeeded as Head of State by King Juan Carlos I, since disgraced and living in exile.  The History Man has done some research ..…


Día de Andalucía is a significant day in the life of most andaluces. It is a public holiday so that schools, businesses, and government offices are closed.

In 2020 it was not celebrated officially because of the Covid pandemic. In 2021, 28-F, as the Spanish call it, was restricted, again because of the Coronavirus.

In 2022 Día de Andalucía was back to normal and all hell was let loose. It promises to be the same again today.

Many people will spend the day quietly with family or close friends. However, some people organise or attend private parties with traditional music, dancing, food and drink. Some municipalities hold communal meals with traditional foods, drinks and entertainment. This did not happen in 2020 or 2021, of course, because of the Covid-19 restrictions.

The autonomous community of Andalucía shares international land borders with Portugal and Gibraltar. Within Spain, it borders the autonomous communities of Castilla-La Mancha, Extremadura and Murcia. People in Andalucía voted for the region to become an autonomous community of Spain on February 28, 1980. However, the Spanish Parliament only accepted Andalucía as a historic nationality in 2006.

Andalucía’s flag is widely displayed on Andalucía Day. It consists of three equal horizontal bars. The top and lower bars are dark green and the middle bar is white. Andalucía’s coat of arms is at the centre of the flag. Andalucía’s coat of arms consists of an image of the mythical Greek hero Heracles between two columns. The columns represent the Pillars of Heracles. These are the rocks on either side of the Straits of Gibraltar.

In many cities, towns and villages in Andalucía people decorate their balconies with the regional flag and with green-and-white bunting.

This year it looks like we may have gotten to grips with the Covid-19 virus, so everything should be more or less back to normal. Let’s hope so and let’s enjoy today.

This writer already has his plans in place: he’s off to Allioli Bar y Mas in Jimera de Líbar, Málaga, to see live music performed by the rock band Equis, featuring Markus Myers, formerly of the band Alicia’s Attic.

Beer, tapas, fresh air and brilliant music!

!Felices fiestas!

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23/24 February – bad days for democracy
Friday, February 24, 2023

Two attacks on democracy have taken place on 23 and 24 February. One, 42 years ago in Spain and the other, 12 months ago in Ukraine. The History Man tells us more.





It is 12 months since Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, launched his illegal and brutal attack on Ukraine. He called it a special operation to stave off the "nazification" of Ukraine.

Does Putin think we’re stupid? Or that the Russian people are? Problem is, propaganda and lies like this are all the vast majority of Russians get to hear via the tightly controlled media in that country.

The latest death toll figures are difficult to establish with both sides over- or under-estimating the data for their own political reasons. Many agencies make different estimates of the death and injury statistics.

Official US resources reckon that 200,000 soldiers have died on both sides.

Other “official” figures show that 7,199 Ukraine civilians have been killed – a war crime, or more accurately 7,199 separate war crimes.

18,483 civilian casualties were reported between February 24 and January 23, 2023, according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

1,276 children have been killed or injured in violence between the beginning of the conflict and January 23, 2023.

About 5.7 million school-aged children have been affected by the conflict, including 3.6 million due to school closures.

17.7 million people need humanitarian aid and protection. In addition to the more than 8 million refugees outside Ukraine, an estimated 5.5 people have been displaced within Ukraine.

With over 8 million fleeing Ukraine as of early January, this has become one of the largest and fastest displacement crises in the world today, according to the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Human Rights). It is also one of the bloodiest conflicts in Europe since World War II.

Data provided by


Spain and 23-F

23 February was the date, 42 years ago, when a pistol-wielding civil guard, Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Tejero, backed by 200 civil guards, entered the chamber of the Spanish parliament, fired shots into the air and tried to initiate an ill-advised and under-prepared golpe de estado (coup).

The coup attempt failed and democracy was quickly restored.

I wrote about this a year ago in Eye on Spain. Please see A Failed Coup (


The future of democracy

Can democracy as a political concept survive? When democratic political systems elect people like Trump, Johnson, Erdogan and even Putin, one has to raise one's eyebrows.

It’s an interesting debate. Absolutely crucial is that Putin must not win this war. The West is behind Ukraine, but despite the provision of massive resources, more needs to be done. There is a lot of rhetoric on the part of politicians like Biden, Sunak, Macron and Sanchez, and belatedly Schulz in Germany, but is it enough?


© The History Man

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Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday
Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day is the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, the 40 days running up to Easter. Shrove Tuesday is observed in many Christian countries through participation in confession and absolution.

For most of us, however, it is simply Pancake Day.

The History Man delves deeper into this tradition.


Shrove Tuesday

Shrove Tuesday is a moveable feast determined by Easter, which in turn is determined by the Moon. The expression "Shrove Tuesday" comes from the word shrive, meaning " absolve".

In France, Shrove Tuesday is known as Mardi Gras ("Fat Tuesday"), referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which begins on Ash Wednesday.

Many Christian congregations plus non-practising folk observe the day through eating pancakes.

In some Christian countries, it is also a carnival day, the last day of "fat eating" or "gorging" before the fasting period of Lent.


Why pancakes?

It was traditional in many societies to eat pancakes or other foods made with the butter, eggs and fat or lard that would need to be used up before the beginning of Lent.  

The specific custom of British Christians eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday dates to the 16th century.

The word shrove is a form of the English word shrive, which means to obtain absolution for one's sins. Thus, Shrove Tuesday was named after the custom of Christians to be "shriven" before the start of Lent.

In the UK, Ireland and parts of the Commonwealth, Shrove Tuesday is also known as Pancake Day, as it became a traditional custom to eat pancakes. 

In Spanish-, Portuguese- and Italian-speaking countries, among others, it is known as carneval. This derives from Medieval Latin carnelevamen ("the putting away of flesh") and thus to another aspect of the Lenten fast, to abstain from eating meat.

The day, or week, is often celebrated with street processions or fancy dress. The most famous of these events are the Brazilian Carnival in Río de Janeiro and the Santa Cruz Carnival in Tenerife (Canary Islands).

In Spain, the Carnival Tuesday is named día de la tortilla, "omelette day", since, rather than pancakes, an omelette made with some sausage or pork fat is eaten.

Shrove Tuesday serves a dual purpose of allowing Christians to repent of any sins they might have made before the start of Lent on the next day, Ash Wednesday, and giving them the opportunity to engage in a last round of merriment before the start of the sombre Lenten season.

Pancakes are associated with Shrove Tuesday, the day preceding Lent, because they are a way to use up rich foods such as eggs, milk, and sugar, before the fasting season of the 40 days of Lent. The liturgical fasting emphasises eating simpler food, and refraining from food that would give undue pleasure: in many cultures, this means no meat, dairy products or eggs.

On Pancake Day, "pancake races" are held in villages and towns across the United Kingdom. The tradition is said to have originated in 1445 when a housewife from Olney, Buckinghamshire, was so busy making pancakes that she forgot the time until she heard the church bells ringing for the service. She raced out of the house to church while still carrying her frying pan and pancake, tossing it to prevent it from burning. 

The pancake race remains a relatively common festive tradition in the UK, especially in England. Participants with frying pans race through the streets tossing pancakes into the air and catching them in the pan while running. 


Shrove Tuesday in Spain

As indicated previously, omelette is eaten instead of pancakes, according to tradition thus using up the surplus butter and eggs, which couldn’t be eaten during Lent.

There are processions in most towns and cities, plus other events and activities. Since this week coincides with schools’ half-term holiday, known here as Semana Blanca, there is plenty for the kids.

I haven’t been to Río, but I have been to the carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife a number of times. Spectacular!


Enjoy your pancakes or your tortillas!


© The History Man


With acknowledgements to Wikipedia


Tags: Ash Wednesday, butter, Canary Islands, día de la tortilla, eggs, frying pan, History Man, Lent, pancake, Pancake Day, pancake race, Puerto de la Cruz, Rio de Janeiro, shrive, shrove, Shrove Tuesday, Tenerife, tortilla

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St Valentine's Day
Monday, February 13, 2023

Tomorrow, 14 February, is St Valentine's Day. Have you ever thought about the origins of the custom of sending flowers and cards, going for a romantic meal, etc?



Last year The History Man posted Valentine's own story. Valentinus, a Roman, lived in the third century AD. He died on 14 February 269 AD. Here is his story again, for 2023, translated from the original Latin.


“Let me introduce myself. My name is Valentine. I lived in Rome during the third century. That was long, long ago! At that time, Rome was ruled by an emperor named Claudius. I didn't like Emperor Claudius, and I wasn't the only one! A lot of people shared my feelings.

“Claudius wanted to have a big army. He expected men to volunteer to join. Many men just did not want to fight in wars. They did not want to leave their wives and families. As you might have guessed, not many men signed up. This made Claudius furious. So what happened? He had a crazy idea. He thought that if men were not married, they would not mind joining the army. So Claudius decided not to allow any more marriages. Young people thought his new law was cruel. I thought it was preposterous! I certainly wasn't going to support that law!

“Did I mention that I was a priest? One of my favourite activities was to marry couples. Even after Emperor Claudius passed his law, I kept on performing marriage ceremonies -- secretly, of course. It was really quite exciting. Imagine a small candle-lit room with only the bride and groom and myself. We would whisper the words of the ceremony, listening all the while for the steps of soldiers.

“One night, we did hear footsteps. It was scary! Thank goodness the couple I was marrying escaped in time. I was caught. (Not quite as light on my feet as I used to be, I guess.) I was thrown in jail and told that my punishment was death.

“I tried to stay cheerful. And do you know what? Wonderful things happened. Many young people came to the jail to visit me. They threw flowers and notes up to my window. They wanted me to know that they, too, believed in love.

“One of these young people was the daughter of the prison guard. Her father allowed her to visit me in the cell. Sometimes we would sit and talk for hours. She helped me to keep my spirits up. She agreed that I did the right thing by ignoring the Emperor and going ahead with the secret marriages. On the day I was to die, I left my friend a little note thanking her for her friendship and loyalty. I signed it, "Love from your Valentine."

“I believe that note started the custom of exchanging love messages on Valentine's Day. It was written on the day I died, February 14, 269 A.D. Now, every year on this day, people remember. But most importantly, they think about love and friendship. And when they think of Emperor Claudius, they remember how he tried to stand in the way of love, and they laugh -- because they know that love can't be beaten!”




I wrote this piece some years ago and I cannot remember my source. I hope I am not guilty of infringing copyright or plagiarising someone else's work.

If I am, please accept my apologies and get in touch and I'll have the post removed.


Tags: Claudius, emperor, card, flowers, heart, St Valentine, San Valentin, Valentine, Valentinus


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Friday the 13th
Friday, January 13, 2023

Today is Friday the 13th. There will be one more in 2023. Many people consider this day to be unlucky and try to avoid situations where bad luck may occur.

The History Man has been taking a look at this superstition.



Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day in Western superstition. It occurs when the 13th day of the month in the Gregorian calendar falls on a Friday, which happens at least once every year but can occur up to three times in the same year. For example, 2015 had a Friday the 13th in February, March, and November; 2017 through 2020 had two Friday the 13ths each; 2016, 2021 and 2022 had just one occurrence of Friday the 13th each; 2023 and 2024 will have two Friday the 13ths each.

According to folklore historian Donald Dossey, the unlucky nature of the number "13" originated with a Norse myth about 12 gods having a dinner party in Valhalla. The trickster god Loki, who was not invited, arrived as the 13th guest, and arranged for Höðr to shoot Balder with a mistletoe-tipped arrow. According to Dossey: "Balder died, and the whole Earth got dark. The whole Earth mourned. It was a bad, unlucky day." This major event in Norse mythology caused the number 13 to be considered unlucky.


Christian associations

The superstition seems to relate to various things, like the story of Jesus’ Last Supper and crucifixion in which there were 13 individuals present on the 13th of Nisan, Maundy Thursday, the night before his death on Good Friday. Some believe that Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th to take his seat, although this is not stated in the Bible.

In France, Friday 13th might have been associated with misfortune as early as the first half of the 19th century. A character in the 1834 play Les Finesses des Gribouilles’ states, "I was born on a Friday, December 13th, 1813 from which come all of my misfortunes".

An early documented reference in English occurs in H S Edwards’ biography of Gioachino Rossini, who died on a Friday 13th:

"Rossini was surrounded to the last by admiring friends; and if it be true that, like so many Italians, he regarded Fridays as an unlucky day and 13 as an unlucky number, it is remarkable that on Friday 13th of November he passed away."

It is possible that the publication in 1907 of T W Lawson’s popular novel ‘Friday, the Thirteenth’, contributed to popularizing the superstition. In the novel, an unscrupulous broker takes advantage of the superstition to create a Wall Street panic on a Friday the 13th.

In Spanish-speaking countries, instead of Friday, Tuesday the 13th (martes trece) is considered a day of bad luck.



Triskaidekaphobia (from Ancient Greek τρεισκαίδεκα (treiskaídeka) 'thirteen', and Ancient Greek φόβος (phóbos) 'fear') is fear or avoidance of the number 13. It is also a reason for the fear of Friday the 13th.

The term was used as early as in 1910 by Isador Coriat in Abnormal Psychology.


The film franchise

Friday the 13th is an American horror franchise that comprises twelve slasher films, a television series, novels, comic books, video games, and tie‑in merchandise. The franchise mainly focuses on the fictional character Jason Voorhees, who was thought to have drowned as a boy at Camp Crystal Lake due to the negligence of the camp staff.

Decades later, the lake is rumoured to be "cursed" and is the setting for a series of mass murders. Jason is featured in all of the films, as either the killer or the motivation for the killings.

The films have grossed over $468 million at the box-office worldwide. It was the highest-grossing horror franchise in the world until ‘Halloween’ (2018) was released, putting the Halloween franchise in the top spot.


So, be careful today! Although, if you live in Spain, maybe you have to worry about martes trece.





© The History Man


Tags: Bible, Donald Dossey, Friday the 13th, Gregorian calendar, Halloween, History Man, Isador Coriat, Jason Voorhees, Jesus, Judas Iscariot, Last Supper, martes trece, Triskaidekaphobia, Tuesday the 13th


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Two Bank Holidays in Spain This Week
Sunday, December 4, 2022

By The History Man


Spain enjoys more días festivos (bank holidays) than most countries and the Spanish know how to enjoy themselves on these “days off”.

This coming week there are two, on Tuesday and Thursday. Known as the Macropuente de la Constitución (a puente is when an additional day’s holiday is taken to form a “bridge” between, say, a Sunday and a Tuesday or a Thursday and a Friday. Theoretically, this week there could be three puentes: Monday, Wednesday and Friday, hence the name macropuente) it is somewhat surprising that neither Monday or Wednesday has been declared a puente. The only industry taking those two days off, I am told, is construction.


Constitution Day (Día de la Constitución) – 6 December

This day marks the anniversary of a referendum held in Spain on 6 December 1978. In this referendum, a new constitution was approved. This was an important step in Spain's transition to becoming a constitutional monarchy and democracy after the fascist regime of General Franco came to an end on his death in November 1975.



The dictator Francisco Franco was head of state in Spain from 1 April 1939, until 20 November 1975. He died five days later. Spain needed a new constitution and political system after his death. General elections were held on 15 June 1977. The newly formed parliament drew up a new constitution, which was approved by 88 percent of the people of Spain in a referendum on 6 December 1978.

Constitution Day is a national public holiday.

On the days before Constitution Day, children and young people have extra lessons on the history, politics and constitution of Spain. The parliamentary buildings in Madrid are open to the general public for one or two days and a cocktail party is held in the parliamentary buildings on 6 December.

Constitution Day is a day off work for most people. Public life is generally very quiet and most businesses and other organisations are closed. Most shops are closed, although some bakers and food stores may be open. Public transport services generally run to a reduced schedule, although there may be no services in rural areas.

The Spanish spend time at home relaxing with family members or close friends.



Physical representations of the Spanish Constitution are important symbols of Constitution Day.

The national flag of Spain consists of two horizontal red bands separated by a yellow band. The red bands are of equal width and the yellow band is twice as wide as each red band. This version of the flag was confirmed in the constitution of 1978. The national flag is widely displayed on private homes, public buildings and even public transport vehicles on Constitution Day. It may be displayed alone or together with the European and regional flags.


St Nicholas Day

6 December is also Saint Nicholas Day, or the Feast of Saint Nicholas, observed in Western Christian countries. It is celebrated as a Christian festival with particular regard to Saint Nicholas' reputation as a bringer of gifts, as well as through the attendance at church services.

In Germany and Poland boys have traditionally dressed as bishops and begged alms for the poor. In Poland and Ukraine children wait for Saint Nicholas to come and to put a present under their pillows provided that they were good during the year. Children who behaved badly may expect to find a twig or a piece of coal under their pillows. In the Netherlands and Belgium children put out a shoe filled with hay and a carrot for Saint Nicholas' horse. In the USA one custom associated with Saint Nicholas Day is children leaving their shoes in the entrance hall on Saint Nicholas Eve in hope that Saint Nicholas will place some coins on the soles.

The name Santa Claus derives from the name Saint Nicholas, or the Dutch Sinterklaas, the saint's name in that language. However, the gift-giving associated with these figures is associated with Christmas Day, rather than with Saint Nicholas Day.


Immaculate Conception (Día de la Inmaculada Concepción) – 8 December

Many Christian communities around the world annually observe the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8. This day is a holy day of obligation in which many Christians, particularly of the Roman Catholic faith, attend special church services for the occasion.

Immaculate Conception is a public holiday in Spain. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.

8 December is also a public holiday in some other countries, eg East Timor, Guam, which is an unincorporated territory of the United States, Italy, Malta and Monaco.

It is not a nationwide public holiday in countries such as Australia, Canada, the UK and the USA (except Guam).



Theological controversy surrounded the Feast of the Immaculate Conception for centuries. However popular celebration of this holiday dates back to at least the eighth century. The argument related to the meaning of the word “immaculate”, which in this context refers to the belief that the Virgin Mary (Jesus’ mother) conceived the baby Jesus without having sexual intercourse, according to Christian belief.

Many theologians throughout Christian history, including St Thomas Aquinas, questioned the Immaculate Conception. It remained open for debate for many years until Pope Pius IX proclaimed it to be an essential dogma in the Catholic Church on 8 December 1854. The written document on this is known as the Ineffabilis Deus. Since then, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception celebrates the belief that Mary was born without sin and that God chose her to be Jesus’ mother.  Many Anglicans in the world also hold this belief.



Various paintings, statues and other forms of artwork have been made depicting the Immaculate Conception. They usually show Mary as a young woman dressed in white and blue. She is often standing on a hill or raised area and has a halo of stars around her head. The pieces of art may also include images of clouds, golden lights, cherubs, lilies, or roses. 


So, my friends, if you live in Spain or are here on holiday, enjoy the coming week of celebrations. But don’t forget to do your shopping on Monday and/or Wednesday.


© The History Man



Tags: 6 December, 8 December, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Constitution, East Timor, fascist, Franco, Germany, Guam, Immaculate Conception, Ineffabilis Deus, Italy, Jesus, Malta, Mary, Monaco, Netherlands, Poland, Pope Pius IX, Saint Nicholas Day, St Thomas Aquinas, Santa Claus, Sinterklaas, The History Man, Ukraine, UK, USA

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Halloween, All Saints and All Souls in Spain
Monday, October 31, 2022

What a hectic three days the end of October and the beginning of November are here in Spain. A semi-pagan festival, Halloween on 31 October, followed by two Roman Catholic feast days, All Saints’ and All Souls’ on 1 and 2 November. 1 November is a national holiday in Spain. This year, 2022, 1 November falls on a Tuesday, so many workers will also take the Monday off giving them a four day break. This is known as a “puente”, a bridge, or long weekend. The History Man has been looking at the background to these three días festivos



The word Halloween, a contraction of “All Hallows’ evening”, is a celebration observed in many countries on October 31, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. It begins the observance of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed.

One theory holds that many Halloween traditions may have been influenced by ancient Celtic harvest festivals, which may have had pagan roots.

Halloween activities include trick-or-treating, attending Halloween costume parties, carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, divination games, playing pranks, visiting haunted attractions, telling scary stories, as well as watching horror films. In many parts of the world, the Christian religious observances of All Hallows’ Eve, including attending church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead, remain popular, although elsewhere it is a more commercial and secular celebration. Some Christians historically abstained from meat on All Hallows’ Eve, a tradition reflected in the eating of certain vegetarian foods on this vigil day, including apples, potato pancakes, and soul cakes.

Trick-or-treating is a customary celebration for children on Halloween. Children go in costume from house to house, asking for treats such as sweets or sometimes money, with the question, “Trick or treat?” The word “trick” implies a “threat” to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if no treat is given.


All Saints’ Day

All Saints’ Day, also known as All Hallows’ Day, is a Christian solemnity celebrated in honour of all the saints, known and unknown. Its intent is to celebrate all the saints, including those who do not, or are no longer, celebrated individually, either because the number of saints has become so great or because they were celebrated in groups, after suffering martyrdom collectively. The feast may have started in the Christian community in Antioch. Its date, November 1, was set by Pope Gregory III and extended to the whole church by Pope Gregory IV.

In Western Christianity, it is still celebrated on November 1 by the Roman Catholic Church as well as many Protestant churches. The Eastern Orthodox Church and associated Eastern Catholic and Byzantine Lutheran churches celebrate it on the first Sunday after Pentecost. The Church of the East and associated Eastern Catholic churches celebrate All Saints’ Day on the first Friday after Easter.

In the Western Christian practice, the liturgical celebration begins at Vespers on the evening of October 31, All Hallows’ Eve (All Saints’ Eve), and ends at the close of 1 November. It is thus the day before All Souls’ Day, which commemorates the faithful departed. In many traditions, All Saints’ Day is part of the season of Allhallowtide, which includes the three days from October 31 to November 2 inclusive, and in some denominations, such as Anglicanism, extends to Remembrance Sunday. In places where All Saints’ Day is observed as a public holiday but All Souls’ Day is not, cemetery and grave rituals such as offerings of flowers, candles and prayers or blessings for the graves of loved ones often take place on All Saints Day.

In Spain, el Día de Todos los Santos is a national holiday. As in all Hispanic countries, people take flowers to the graves of dead relatives. The play Don Juan Tenorio by José Zorrilla is traditionally performed.


All Souls’ Day

All Souls’ Day, also known as El Dia De Los Difuntos, the Day of the Dead, is a day of prayer and remembrance for the souls of those who have died, which is observed by Catholics and other Christian denominations annually on November 2. Practitioners of All Souls’ Day traditions often remember deceased loved ones in various ways on the day. Beliefs and practices associated with All Souls’ Day vary widely among Christian churches and denominations.

In contemporary Western Christianity the annual celebration is held on November 2, and is part of the season of Allhallowtide that includes All Saints’ Day (November 1) and its eve, Halloween (October 31).

Many All Souls’ Day traditions are associated with popular notions about purgatory. Bell tolling was meant to comfort those being cleansed. Lighting candles was to kindle a light for the poor souls languishing in the darkness. Soul cakes were given to children coming to sing or pray for the dead (cf. trick-or-treating), giving rise to the traditions of “going souling” and the baking of special types of bread or cakes.

So, there we have it. As implied earlier, despite serious religious undertones, the Spanish see this period as a time for family and celebration of life in general – even in the Covid-19 world we still live in.

With acknowledgements to Wikipedia


Tags: All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day, bridge, puente, catholic, covid-19, día de los difuntos, day of the dead, Halloween, pagan, the history man

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El Día de la Hispanidad - Spain's Fiesta Nacional
Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Tomorrow, 12 October, is El Día de la Hispanidad. As we know shops and offices will be closed, few people will go to work and many will go away for an extended weekend. But why? The History Man investigates…

Tomorrow in Spain is what we British call a Bank Holiday. El Día de la Hispanidad is the Fiesta Nacional de España, the national day of Spain. It is held annually on 12 October and is celebrated throughout Spain. It commemorates the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s first arrival in the Americas, on Guananí Island, in the archipelago of the Bahamas.

It is a day also celebrated in other countries. It is known as Columbus Day in the United States and as Día de la Raza in various Hispanic American countries. Celebration of the anniversary in Spain dates to 1935 when the first festival was held in Madrid. The day was known as Día de la Hispanidad, emphasizing Spain’s connection to the Hispanidad, the international Hispanic community. On November 27th, 1981, a royal decree established Día de la Hispanidad as a national holiday.

However, on 7 October 1987, the name was changed to Fiesta Nacional, and 12 October became one of two national celebrations, along with Día de la Constitución on 6 December.

Spain’s “national day” had moved around several times during the various regime changes of the 20th century; establishing it on the day of the international Columbus celebration was part of a compromise between conservatives, who wanted to emphasise the status of the monarchy and Spain’s history, and Republicans, who wanted to commemorate Spain’s burgeoning democracy with an official holiday. The change in the name had the effect of removing all references to Spain’s historical colonialism, and even its ties to Latin America.

Ever since 2000, 12 October was celebrated each year with a military parade of some 4,000 soldiers (usually held in Madrid) and presided over by the Spanish king. However, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the parade was cancelled in 2020.

In 2021, however, the events took place as normal and they will this year also.

So, now you can celebrate El Día de la Hispanidad tomorrow along with your Spanish friends and neighbours, possibly knowing more about the rationale for and background to this feria than they do! Enjoy your day!


With acknowledgements to Wikipedia

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