Spain’s Culture

Spain’s culture has evolved over time with a variety of influences, its location gave way to influences from European, African and Middle Eastern states. The predominant events or activities that create Spain’s culture are futbol, bull fighting, and dance. These three pastimes are uniquely  associated with Spain, meaning they can be almost immediately linked to Spain on someone’s first thought.

Since the control of Francisco Franco, who especially supported  futbol, it has been the most watched sport in Spain. It is considered the country’s national sport, meaning that the majority of cities in Spain all have at least one team and the demand for sports reporters are high. It is a common sight to see young children playing on the streets, meaning the youth is often active and tend to be healthy by the amount exercise they receive. This also includes females who enjoy soccer as well.

After reading many articles and seeing the comments, I frequently came across the phrase “futbol is much more than a game, it is almost a religion for the dedicated fans”. The soccer coaches for professional soccer teams are also very much criticized if a team loses, this leads to the frequent switching of coaches if a team begins to lose matches. In the media “every aspect of the players’ public and private lives are analyzed and debated”, this can be seen a negative aspect of when a country is devoted to soccer. It is common to see the statistics of a game next to your daily news. When the players are put on a higher pedestal which leads to their lives becoming public. This level of involvement in soccer is similar to the United States and American football, for example one hundred and fourteen point four million viewers tuned in to watch the Super Bowl in two thousand and fifteen. Soccer is widely appreciated and respected in Spain. Bill Shankly, the Liverpool manager of a football  team said it perfectly, how seriously they consider futbol: “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I’m very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.” Another level to soccer is the gambling side, it is highly popular to gamble on games on both a local to major league level and it is organized by the Quiniela system.

Moving on to an even more well known Spanish activity, bullfighting is widely recognized. A bullfight is a public spectacle that involves a man fighting a bull using a series of traditional maneuvers that usually ends with the ceremonial execution of the bull by sword. The first bullfight that was ever recorded, dates back to the monarchy reign of King Alfons VIII. Despite the danger and risk of injury, many Spanish citizen (including children who spectate) partake annually in the bullfighting arenas. It is seen as an integral part of tradition and as an acceptable pastime for everyone. The government is also involved, mainly by subsidizing the events. While bullfighting is known to be a Spanish activity, other countries such as Portugal, Mexico, France, Columbia, Venezuela, Peru, and Ecuador also partake in it.

Recently, the Humane Society International (HSI) on their official website have calculated that roughly two hundred and fifty thousand bulls have been killed as a result of bullfights. This is a result of the custom of stabbing the bull multiple times, their stand is that it is a form of “animal cruelty” and that it is fairly “outdated”. The Humane Society is essentially an international animal protection organization that works to protect all animals around the globe. The HSI’s argument is that the viewing of defenseless animals being murdered should not be an acceptable pastime, and that the audience has been gradually declining for years. Orson Welles a filmmaker and actor who was a huge admirer of Spain even said, ”Bullfights aren’t a form of sport, they are a tragedy. A bullfight is a tragedy in three acts. These noble creatures, who are waiting for their death this afternoon are the heroes of that tragedy. The tragedy of the bullfight is based on the innocent of this creature. Of course, his innocence, his perfect virginity, is the basis of the tragedy of the bullfight.” Anti-bullfighting video– it is graphic.

Humane Society International’s goal would be to have the bullfights banned. As of now, bull fights are not banned from Spain but the European Parliament have voted in favor of putting an end to the European Unions subsidizing farmers who are specifically breeding bulls for bullfights. In the future, it is unclear whether or not bullfighting will continue to be part of Spain’s modern culture but it will always be a part of Spain’s history.

Another aspect of Spain’s culture is music and dance, in many cases they generally over lap for many Spanish citizens. One of the reasons why Flamenco is recognized by the world for being solely Spanish, is that it originated from the native country of Spain and is one of the cases where it was not predominately influenced by other communities or cultures. Since the most well known type of dance is Flamenco, but in reality there are six official categories associated with Spanish dance: Classical Ballet, Folklore, Castanets, Eighteenth Century, Estilización (Classical Spanish Dance), and Flamenco. There is also: Fandango (the most popular before Flamenco), the Bolero (one of Spain’s oldest and most traditional dance), the Sevillanas (a very joyful and cheerful dance with four parts), the Sardana  (a dance from Cataluña, several people in a closed circle), the Jota (from Aragon with Moorish influence), Paso Doble, and Zambra (origins from Mooris and Jewish music). The different types of dances are a tribute to wide spectrum of cultures in Spain’s history. Unlike with bullfighting, Fransisco Franco banned music and dances during his thirty five year reign as dictator (1939-1975). Since his intent was to create a more nationalist country (unified with no differences), it makes sense that he would refuse to allow these dances that portrayed so much of Spain’s differences of cultures. After Franco’s death there was a renewal of Renaissance; which included music, dance, literature  and art. In regards to art, the early 20th century was filled withSpanish artists such as: Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Joan Miró and Salvador Dalí, whose art is still to this day widely admired and revered.

A video of the Ballet Nacional de España that has a  mixture of dances.

Spain’s flag became official in 1981, and it was created with distinct meanings that tie in with Spain’s history. The crest includes a golden crown that refers to Spain’s history with monarchies. The colors yellow and red represent generosity, hardiness, bravery, and strength. The meaning of the coat of arms is quite detailed and unique; it is positioned to be quartered in order to display the traditional kingdoms of Spain (clockwise from upper left, Castile, Leon, Navarre, and Aragon). While Granada is represented by the pomegranate at the bottom of the shield; framing the arm is  two columns that represent the Pillars of Hercules. The red scroll across the two columns has the imperial motto of “Plus Ultra” (further beyond) referring to Spanish lands beyond Europe that were discovered primarily by Columbus.