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Spain Today

Spanish Culture and Traditions

Spain is still a deeply religious Catholic country. Most of the festivities have religious roots, although it is also true that those very same festivities show some pagan roots, going even further back in time.

To cite some examples, one could speak of the "Romer¡as", which are popular pilgrimages to predetermined places, generally "ermitas" (small churches usually located far from towns, often on hilltops, and mostly related to some specific saint or miraculous event). On such "Romer¡as", which are celebrated once a year on hundreds of towns and villages throughout Spain, people usually have fun with dance, food, drinks and fellowship. The "Romer¡as" of El Roc¡o (in June), near the Doñana Natural Reservation, are very famous; and so are the ones dedicated to the "Virgen de La Cabeza" in And£jar (the last Sunday in April, near Jaen, Andalusia).

Another example are the Processions, which take place as a remembrance of special official religious days, and are even more solemn and colorful during Holy Week. The latter is quite unique in Seville, where the city appears to represent a collective dramatic play during the course of several days. In other regions, such as Cataluña, there are actual representations of Passion Plays, with the participation of normal local citizens.

The Fairs are festivities which normally have either seasonal or agricultural roots and motifs. Among the most outstanding ones is the one of Seville (the last Sunday in April), or Jerez de la Frontera (in May).

There are other types of celebrations which have real importance, as the "Sanfermines" (starting July 7th), in Pamplona (Navarra), on the northern part of the country, in which the people congregate -- in masses -- in the old parts of the city, while dozens of young experts (and some tourists with an urge to live through some dangerous adventures which they could later tell those back home) run in front of herds of wild bulls until they make them enter into the bullring.

Also of interest are the "Fallas" (in mid-March), in Valencia (to the East), in where virtual "works of art" are burnt in huge night fires, and one could find fireworks as well as music bands on the streets.

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