Before the country was united to become what is modern day Spain in 1492, the regions that now form part of it had their own identity and culture, and still do. The first loyalty a Spaniard has is to their region rather than their country.
The stereotypical fiery flamenco type who only speaks at high volume is proud to be an Andalusian from the south. The quieter, more reserved Galicians to the north hold their own identity and pride, though they won’t shout about it. The Basques and Catalans are more vocal in their expression of their respective cultural distinctions, the former celebrates the Running of the Bulls for instance, the latter makes their position clear by having banned bullfighting altogether.
And somehow this country of countries is all held together by Madrid, the capital in the centre. So what philosophy can possibly unite this nation of such marked regional variation?
Life’s a fiesta in Spain
The answer is fatalism. All regions have one thing in common, and that’s they have all been dominated by a superior entity over the centuries, be it an occupier, such as the Romans, or Moors, a religion i.e. Catholicism, a neighbouring kingdom or a political system, such as Franco’s dictatorship. The resulting effect on the Spanish psyche is the idea that they have little control over their destiny, and despite historically having rebelled against authority on a number of occasions (and still do in particular areas), they settle back into the opinion that they are powerless to do anything about it.
As a result of this, ironically, the Spanish are generally cheerful, friendly and hospitable; having relented on the ability to change anything, they accept their circumstances and enjoy the moment. And there’s fun to be had at every given opportunity, evident in the fullest participation of countless traditional fiestas and celebrations that go on across the country year round. For the Spanish fatalism equals hedonism.
My favourite quote from the Spanish
When literal translation reveals how the Spanish think.
Navigating Spain’s relaxed food culture