Maybe you’re about to go on a trip to Spain, or possibly you’re just interested in learning more about the country. Whatever the case, I’ve brought together ten interesting facts about Spain that you probably didn’t know. I hope you enjoy reading about them and expanding your knowledge of Spain.
1. Spain, Once a Muslim Country
Most people know that the majority of Spanish are of the Catholic faith. However, did you know that for 300 plus years, a large percent of Spain was Muslim? In the 1600s, almost all of Spain was conquered by North African armies who were mostly from the Moorish Muslim belief in an attempt to advance the Umayyad Islamic Empire. Christians and Jews living during this time were allowed continue to practicing their own religions, but were forced to pay an additional tax and were subject to discriminations. After several battles between Muslims and Christians to gain Spain, Catholicism was made the official religion of Spain in 1942 when non-Catholics faced expulsion from the country.
2. Spain Finances Historical Explorations
3. Spain, a Liberal Country
Spain has become known as one of the most legally liberal countries in Europe over the past few years. Same-sex marriage was legalized in 2005, despite the strong opposition from the Catholic Church. Although possessing and using Cannabis (or Marijuana) in public places is considered a misdemeanor and trafficking is a criminal offense, the private use and growth of Cannabis for personal use is legal. Spain was also one of the first countries in Europe to ban smoking in all workplaces; however, it is said that 40% of all Spanish people between 17 and 24 years old smoke. Nudity is also legal in Spain.
4. Multiple Surnames in Spain
Everyone in Spain has two last/surnames. If you lived in Spain, your first last name would be your father’s first last name, and your second last name would be your mother’s first last name. In this way, it is always the father’s last name that is passed on to future generations.
5. Spanish Tooth Rat
Spanish children do not look forward to a visit from the Tooth Fairy; instead, they leave their baby teeth under their pillow in hopes that a little mouse named Ratoncito Perez will come and take it. Ratoncito Perez often leaves money or presents in exchange for the tooth. A story was written about this little tooth rat in the early 1900’s by a man named Luis Coloma. Ratoncito Perez was used to sell Colgate toothpaste at once point in time.
6. Bullfighting in Spain
Although Spain made bullfighting an art, criticism of the sport is growing. A motion has been made by the Catalonian regional parliament to ban bullfighting.
7. The Low Birthrate in Spain
Due to high unemployment and the expensive cost of housing, Spanish are unable to afford large houses which would be able to hold very many children. These two factors lead to the low birth rate in Spain with most couples only having two children.
8. The Rain in Spain
Remember My Fair Lady when Eliza Doolittle is forced to rehearse “the rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain”? Well, it turns out Professor Higgens was wrong. Galiacia, a region in the north east of Spain, gets an incredible amount of rain. In April of 2007, it rained almost every day, breaking previous records. This onslaught of rain came at the end of a drought.
9. Berets Not Worn by the French First
Where do you think the beret was invented? If you’re like most people, you probably think that it started in France; however, the beret was probably first worn by shepherds in the Pyrenees mountains and was equally enjoyed by both the French and Spanish alike. Some people believe that the beret was first introduced into Spanish culture in the sixteenth century.
Want a glass of hot chocolate on a cold night? In Spain, hot chocolate is served extremely chocolaty and thick. Many people consider it to be more like a sort of pudding than an actual drink. The Spanish enjoy eating churros with their hot chocolate. Churros are also known as the “Spanish Doughnut” since they are doughy, pastry-based snacks that are often made out of potatoes and then fried. Although we usually think of doughnuts as being round, the churro or Spanish doughnut is round and long, looking more like a steak fry.
So, now your knowledge of Spain has been increased. I hope you were able to enjoy these new, interesting facts about the Spanish and their great country. If you feel a need to impress your friends, these tidbits of information would make some great conversation topics.