Spain’s packed annual calendar of festivals, fiestas and events is an intriguing fusion of national anniversaries and religious themed celebrations. Each of the 18 municipalities has its own public holidays and local observances and these are the key dates throughout 2014.
New Year’s Day: 1 January 2014
All of Spain comes together to celebrate Año Nuevo, aka New Year’s Day, which is a national holiday. Traditionally the day is spent with family and friends and sleeping off the Nochevieja (old night’s) hangover! And old tradition sees the older generation consume twelve grapes on the stroke of midnight to bring luck to the year ahead.
Epiphany: 6 January 2014
Every municipality celebrates Día de Reyes, aka The Day of the Kings – the Christian feast day. This is the day that according to the Bible, the three wise kings of Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthazar visited the baby Jesus and bestowed gifts upon him. Towns and cities across the country organise lively parades to re-enact the arrival of the Kings.
Day of Andalucía: 28 February 2014
The Andalucian region marks its Day of Andalucía each year on the same date in honour of the anniversary of the referendum, which was held originally on 28 February 1980. The referendum established Andalucía as an autonomous community.
St. Joseph's Day: 19 March 2014
Eleven municipalities celebrate San Jose Day, also known as Fallas de San José – the husband of the Virgin Mary. Many areas also adopt the day as Father's Day, aka Día del Padre, in which they attend church services and the people of Valencia wear traditional clothing.
Maundy Thursday: 17 April 2014
Seventeen states across Spain commemorate Maundy Thursday, Jueves Santo, as the day as the Last Supper of Jesus Christ.
Good Friday: 18 April 2014
Viernes Santo is a national holiday across the country and marks Jesus’ crucifixion and death. Special church services are held all over Spain as part of the Holy Week celebrations. Also called Semana Santa, participants give penitence, attend Processions and stage emotional fiestas and carnivals.
Labour Day: 1 May 2014
Día del Trabajador, aka May Day, aka Labour Day stems from the welcoming of spring and allows all workers a day off in honour of their contributions to the country’s economy.
Assumption of Mary: 15 August 2014
The feast day of the Assumption of Mary is a national holiday and devotees attend services at local cathedrals and churches to mark the day that the Virgin Mary entered heaven.
Hispanic Day: 12 October 2014
Colourful fiestas typify this particular holiday which marks the date that Christopher Columbus arrived in the Americas in 1492. Known as the Fiesta Nacional de España, the celebrations get underway with the ceremonious raising of the national flag in Madrid by the King of Spain. Then there is an aerobatics display from the military followed by local carnivals and fiestas.
All Saints’ Day: 1 November 2014
This day is in honour of all the Christian saints who, collectively do not have their own defined day. It’s observed by the Catholic Church as well as other religious, with various different meanings.
Constitution Day: 6 December 2014
Today highlights the day that the Spanish constitutional monarchy and democracy were established via a referendum on 6 December 1978. History lessons are held within schools and parliament hosts a cocktail party. The Spanish national flag was updated along with the constitution and this is proudly displayed in homes and offices.
Immaculate Conception: 8 December 2014
Catholic and Christian devotees mark Inmaculada Concepción with church services and prayers.
Christmas Day: 25 December 2014
Jesus’ birth is marked across the world and in Spain Navidad is preceded by Midnight Mass. The follows loud street processions where participants beat drums, play guitars and carry torches. A traditional Spanish Christmas dinner of truffle stuffed turkey is eaten, although the Galicia region will consume seafood instead. There are gifts of toys for the children, who in turn leave gifts out for the kings; cognac, satsumas and walnuts are a popular option, as well as drinking water for the camels.