Spain is very much a favourite holiday destination for Europeans, particularly those travelling from Ireland, the United Kingdom and Scandinavia. With its many beautiful beaches and sunny summer weather, Spain attracts millions of tourists annually. Most would agree it is a beautiful country in which to enjoy a holiday and experience the wonderful food and drink that the Spanish are famous for.

Another part of the attraction is the way of life in Spain and there are many customs which are unique to this corner of Europe. Below we will look a few of the traditions that are so popular.

Kissing on both cheeks

It is common practice in Spain to kiss on both cheeks when meeting someone in social circles and again when departing. Women are almost always greeted this way, but men usually shake hands with each other unless they are relatives and might also choose to give a hearty back slap too. The ‘kiss’ is not a full-on kiss – more like a touching of cheeks with a kissing sound to accompany the action.

Las Ramblas

Many Spanish cities and towns have an area known as ‘Las Ramblas’ perhaps the most famous of all being in Barcelona, which is somewhat ironic given that it is probably one of the least desirable with its many street traders and shops with tacky neon lights. However, travel to almost any other city or town and you will see many instances of locals casually strolling up and down these pedestrianised walkways, stopping to chat to friends or neighbours for a short while before possibly stopping yet again to greet someone else. It is a very unique Spanish tradition with many people choosing to get dressed up and applying makeup or a brush of the hair before they set out, in order to look their best.

Double barrelled surnames

It is not uncommon in Spain to have a double barreled surname. Many people in Spain use the family name of both their father and mother’s side of the family. When a child is born, they inherit part of the surname from both parents and it is always the surname of that parent’s name that is given to the parent through their parent that is used.

Spanish nightlife

Spaniards are famous for the quality of their food and wine, however they tend to eat their evening meal much later than most other Europeans are used to doing. Maybe its the late lunches and people aren’t hungry again until later in the evening or perhaps it is because many people in Spain still take an afternoon ‘Siesta’ or nap and this enables them to stay up until later into the night.

The knock on effect seems to be that most locals tend not to go out to bars and nightclubs until much later – many nightclubs don’t fill up until well after midnight and revellers keep going until the sun comes up. And of course the delicious Spanish tapas available at just about every bar and café help to keep the hunger pangs at bay.

El Gordo – Spanish Christmas Lottery

Anyone who has ever been to Spain can’t help but have noticed the large number of people selling paper lottery tickets. They are literally everywhere – in local shops and bars, people walking around selling them and there are very popular.

However the lottery that all Spaniards would like to win is the famous Spanish Christmas Lottery that takes place in Spain on December 22nd each year. It is affectionately known as ‘El Gordo’ which literally means ‘The Fat One’ given the sheer size of the winning jackpot which dwarfs most other lotteries. The ‘El Gordo’ Lottery has prizes as high as 1 billion Euro.

Spain is a unique country and a whole lot more than just beaches and bars, so make sure to check out these special local customs on your next visit to the Med.