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The History Man

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

Two Bank Holidays in Spain This Week
Sunday, December 4, 2022 @ 8:36 AM

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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