What are next week’s December Spanish holidays for?

Spanish holidays

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December is upon us and for those new to Spain, it can take some time to adjust to the many differences in celebrations that the country has at this time. The beginning of the Christmas Spanish holidays comes up next week, as Monday 6 December marks a red day (bank holiday) and many people’s idea of the festive season begins.

December 6th is known as Con­sti­tu­tion Day. Con­sti­tu­tion Day (Día de la Con­stitu­ción) marks the an­niversary of a ref­er­en­dum held in Spain on Decem­ber 6, 1978. In this ref­er­en­dum, a new con­sti­tu­tion was ap­proved and this was an im­port­ant step in Spain’s trans­ition to be­com­ing a con­sti­tu­tional mon­archy and demo­cracy.

Franco was head of state in Spain from April 1, 1939, un­til Novem­ber 20, 1975. After he died, Spain needed a new con­sti­tu­tion and polit­ical sys­tem and elec­tions were held on June 15, 1977. After a new par­lia­ment was formed, a new con­sti­tu­tion was drawn up and ap­proved by 88 per­cent of the people of Spain in a ref­er­en­dum on Decem­ber 6, 1978. So as a trans­ition from a dic­tat­or­ship to mod­ern day Spain, it is a fairly im­port­ant an­niversary. It is gen­er­ally cel­eb­rated by people with a quiet re­lax­ing day at home with fam­ily and many shops being closed for the day.

December 8 is a national Holy Day and another of the Spanish holidays, and it marks the Day of Obligation of the Immaculate Inception of Mary (La In­macu­lada Con­cep­ción de la Vir­gen María). Pope Pius IX gave a statement in 1853 confirming the importance of the Immaculate Conception to the Catholic Church and he did this on the 8th December. The actual conception of Jesus is celebrated on the 25th March, but the feast celebrates that God chose Mary to be His mother. Many Chris­ti­ans and Cath­ol­ics at­tend spe­cial church ser­vices on this day and it is a na­tional bank hol­i­day in many coun­tries, but not in the UK, so it can come as a surprise to many new expats.

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Written by

Claire Gordon