Here are some typical character traits of Spaniards:
- Joyful, warm and welcoming
- Tactile (they often touch your arm and shoulder) when speaking to friends, or even complete strangers
- Flexible with making plans, which are usually last minute
- Not punctual, more relaxed and carefree
- Fashion conscious – typically pay more attention to dress than Americans
- Walk at a slower pace compared to pedestrians in large cities in other countries
Strong National Sentiments
Spain’s patriotism, unlike the U.S., does not revolve around the exhibit of their flag. Other representations of the flag, however, are popular such as tying a Spanish flag colored ribbon around their wrist. While not displayed as prominently, it is clear that the Spaniards are very patriotic. They are very proud of their country, to the extent that many see no reason to ever leave Spain, even for vacation.
See blog ¡VIVA ESPANA!
It may seem obvious, however the single most important means to communicate effectively with Spaniards is to speak their language, even with those who speak English. Not only does it demonstrate an interest in their culture, it also facilitates deeper friendships that will uncover yet more layers of the Spanish culture.
There are several variations of the Spanish language spoken in the regions of Spain, although the principal language is Castellano (Spanish) and second most popular is Catalán, which is spoken in the regions of Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands, essentially the northeastern part of Spain.
When people meet, they typically greet each other with two kisses. This is the common practice in various instances, such as when:
- Greeting an adult
- Greeting a friend outside of school
- Greeting family members
- *Two kisses, los besos, are common between female and female, female and male, NOT male and male, unless they are close friends or family
Common Spanish greetings and expressions:
- When meeting someone for the first time, they say (if male) “Encantado” / (if female) “Encantada”
- When parting, they say “Adios” or “Hasta luego”
- When someone sneezes, they say “¡Jesús!” or “¡Salud!”
The use of mobile technology is extremely prevalent among the majority of Spanish citizens. Contrary to practices in the U.S., WhatsApp is by far the most popular way of communicating with other people. Similarity, however, Instagram remains the number one social media app.
Outlook to Other Cultures
Compared to other European countries, Spain is rather insular, which can be attributed to two factors:
- The Pyrenees Mountains are a geographical barrier separating Spain from the rest of Europe.
- After the Spanish Civil War (1936 – 1939), Francisco Franco kept Spain isolated from much of the world during his dictatorship from 1939 – 1975.
However, recent generations are more outward looking and show greater global interest.
Spain is a predominantly Catholic country with approximately 75% of the population being at least nominally Catholic. For specific details on religious affiliations visit this infographic of religions in Spain.
A child is given two last names, the first from the father and the second from the mother. For example, if Fernando Jerez Montero marries Carmen Barriga Ceballos, Carmen does not change her her name. However, if they have a child called Maria, her full name would be Maria Jerez Barriga.