Andalusian Culture

James Lee
• Sunday, 01 November, 2020
• 10 min read

Imagine that you hire a new employee and the first thing he does is stake out a comfortable area for his afternoon nap. In these days of international travel, the world often seems to be a much smaller place, while, in many senses it is much larger.

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When tourists arrive at the Costa del Sol for their summer holidays or mid-winter break they soon discover that some of their fellow countrymen are so enamored with the place that they stayed… More A set of interesting cultural essays about Andalusia in a variety of different topics.

From Roman emperors to Moorish caliphs and poets, from movie stars to models, singers, … More Bullfighting as we know it today, started in the village squares, and became formalized, with the building of the bullring in Ronda in the late 18th century.

The distinctly Andalusian way of life can be discovered in cities like Seville, Córdoba and Granada, as well as smaller towns like Cádiz, Jaén and Jerez de la Frontera. The Moors of North Africa conquered the region in the 8th century and dominated much of the Iberian Peninsula for several hundred years, instilling their culture in everything from the science and architecture to the food and drink.

Evidence of this cultural merger remains today, appearing almost everywhere you turn in the region's historic buildings and unique customs. The modern version of bullfighting started in the tiny town of Ronda, and the ancient bull ring there continues to attract aficionados.

Some visitors may deplore the sport as a bloody and cruel practice, while others adore the artful moves of the matadors and the rush that comes as the bulls charge down their enemies. The traditional siesta breaks for long lunches and naps around midday still exist here, and professionals as well as students tend to take some leisure time each afternoon while businesses and schools shut down for a couple of hours.

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Tapas are tasty snacks served in bars and cafés along with wine or beer as a sort of casual dinner substitute. Seville's Demand Santa ranks as one of the most impressive Holy Week events in the world, complete with masked parades, enormous floats and thundering drum corps processions.

Set in the coastal town of Cádiz, this carnival ranks second only to the one in Rio de Janeiro, according to Odor's Travel Guide. The plazas flood with costumed locals and visitors, and the drinking and dancing takes hold of the town for an entire weekend in February.

Andalusia reaped the benefits of Islamic advances in philosophy, medicine, the arts, and other fields, as well as the religious tolerance practiced under Moorish rule. In addition, the Moors brought to the region sophisticated irrigation and cultivation techniques that made the land bloom.

In addition, Andalusia never built a strong industrial base and continued to rely on outmoded farming methods well into the twentieth century. However, since the end of the repressive Franco regime (1975) and Spain's entry into the European Community (EC) in 1986, Andalusia has seen some economic progress.

Andalusia is located in the southernmost part of the Iberian Peninsula, between the Sierra Moreno Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. It is bound by Portugal to the west; the Spanish provinces of Extremaduran, Castile-La-Mancha, and Murcia to the north; the Mediterranean to the southeast; and the Gulf of Cádiz to the southwest.

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They are particularly known for the colorful Holy Week (Demand Santa) celebrations held in their cities and towns. The Catholicism of Andalusian's is distinguished by an especially strong belief in the power of intercession by saints and the Virgin Mary.

The most famous is Seville's Demand Santa, or Holy Week, celebration, which begins on Palm Sunday and ends on Easter Saturday. On each day, up to eleven processions of floats pass through town, organized by members of religious brotherhoods called comrades.

Seville's Beria takes place shortly after Easter and lasts an entire week. Baptism, first communion, marriage, and military service are considered rites of passage for Andalusian's, as they are for most Roman Catholic Spaniards.

The first three of these events are the occasion, in most cases, for big and expensive social gatherings in which the family shows its generosity and economic status. They form a closely knit group that collects money from neighbors to organize parties and serenade girls.

The day typically ends with a walk with friends or family or visits to neighborhood bars for drinks, tapas (appetizers), and conversation. In greetings, it is customary to shake hands, and in social settings women usually kiss their friends on both cheeks.

spain andalusia culture arab wonders arabianmusings
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Young groups formed by co-workers, fellow students, or people from the same town go together to discos, organize parties and excursions, and date among themselves. Reflecting the Andalusian's' Moorish heritage, houses in the region have traditionally been designed with the goal of protecting residents from the heat of the sun.

Male participation in domestic life is sharply limited, and fathers generally maintain a more distant and formal role. In the 1980s, high unemployment in Spain forced many young adults to continue living with their parents.

Only church marriages were formally recognized in Spain until 1968, when civil ceremonies were first allowed by law. Andalusian women have a high degree of economic independence, and compete favorably with men for the region's scarce jobs.

For everyday activities, both casual and formal, Andalusian swear modern Western-style clothing. Women's attire consists of solid-colored or polka-dot dresses with tightly fitted bodices and flounced skirts and sleeves.

During the Holy Week (Demand Santa) festivals, members of religious fraternities called comrades wear all-white costumes consisting of long robes, masks, and high-pointed hats. These are similar to those worn during the Spanish Inquisition of the fifteenth century and later adopted by the Ku Klux Klan in the United States.

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Popular tapas in all of Spain include shrimp-fried squid, cured ham, chorizo (spicy Spanish sausage), and potato omelettes (called tortillas). The most famous Andalusian dish is gazpacho, a cold soup made with tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and olive oil.

The other dish for which Andalusia is known is fish fried in batter, available at special shops called bravuras. Flamenco dances, accompanied by a singer and guitarist, feature expressive hand and chest movements, clapping (Capote), and foot tapping (Zapotec).

The authentic flamenco song, sung a cappella (without musical accompaniment), is the caste condo, an anguished lament expressing love, sadness, and loss. The Spanish national sport of bullfighting originated in Andalusia, where Spain's oldest bullrings are located (in Seville and Ronda).

Next the picadors, mounted on horseback, gore the bull with lances to weaken him, and the banderilleros stick colored banners into his neck. In a region with extremely hot weather much of the year, Andalusian life moves at a leisurely and casual pace.

Much social life centers around the neighborhood bars where one can relax with a cold drink and a plate of tapas. People also enjoy staying home and watching television, which is found even in the smallest village.

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In addition to their leather crafts, Andalusian's are known for their ceramics, which are distinguished by the geometric designs that originated with the Moors. The art of Andalusian builders and stone carvers has survived in such famous buildings as the Alhambra Palace in Granada, the Giraldo Tower in Seville, and the mosque in the city of Córdoba.

Much of the land is concentrated in large holdings (latifundios) by wealthy (and often absentee) landowners. Of special interest are the religious traditions and the popular feasts and festivals (“series”).

Besides many other things, the remains of the former Roman city of Italics, located close to the village of Sentience (near Seville), can be visited today. From the period of the Arab supremacy there are some outstanding splendid buildings in Córdoba (“Mesquita”), Granada (“Alhambra”) and Seville (“Alcázar” and “Giraldo”).

Beside the construction of religious buildings, such as mosques, the Arab builders created spectacular water routes and defense systems. For the world exhibition Expo '92 in Seville many modern works of architecture were constructed.

Diego Velázquez, Francisco de Zurbarán, Bartolomé Murillo, Alonso Can, Juan Values Lead Dozens of brotherhoods, each of them with several hundred members, the so-called Nazarene walk on a specific route through the cities.

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Of significant attraction are the “pass”, representations of the Lord and the Virgin Maria, placed on heavy wooden frames. Music corps accompany the pass, from the balconies sound the “Seats”, solo vocal performances.

The most important Holy Week celebrations in Andalusia are held in Seville, Granada and Málaga. In May, you can see the May Crosses, “Cruces de Mayo”, a mixture from of secular and Christian customs (particularly in Córdoba).

The pilgrimages, which have also a long tradition in Andalusia, are of more folklorist and festive character. The biggest “Romania” of the Christianity takes place annually at Whitsuntide in the small village of El Rocco (province Huelva).

Almost one million people visit the chapel at the edge of the protected Donna Natural Park, many of them come by foot, with horse carriages or on horseback. The fair calendar begins with the procession of the Three Kings of the Orient on the evening of January 5th and is a special highlight for all children.

Originally derived from regional cattle markets, they are today colorful, folklorist celebrations, where the visitors eat, drink, dance and sing all night long. In many villages is celebrated at the end of June the night of St. John (“niche DE San Juan”).

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It combines traditional gypsy music with Arab, Jewish and also old Indian sounds. It was mainly performed in a private atmosphere, e.g. family celebrations of rich landlords or also in the houses of prostitutes.

In the middle of the 19th Century the Flamenco music conquers the “cafés cant antes” and fusions for the first time with the two other arts: the dance (“ Bailey “) and the guitar play (“ toque “). Flamenco has survived until today in local societies (“ penal “) and has inspired artists of different cultures all over the world.

Very popular among the Andalusian's are also the so-called Sevillanas “, a dancing form which follows a stricter set of rules. It is there where we find also the most famous and most beautiful bullrings, as the “plazas DE too” of Córdoba, Seville, Jerez de la Frontera, Málaga and the famous arena of Ronda, featured in the work of the American actor and movie director Orson Welles.

The bullfighting season lasts from March to November and usually accompany the local festivals (“series”). To fight against a bull weighing 500 or 600 kilograms from a horse, was during the 19th Century a privilege of the noble class.

If he succeeds, loud “ole”-calls can be heard and depending on his performance the TORRO gets one or two ears and (or) the tail of its victim. Ceramic(s), carpenter works, silversmith production, carpets as well as cloth weaving and leather work are to be mentioned in the first place.

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The Romans brought wine and olives into the country, from the Arabs derive not only the water supply systems but also lemon fruits, almonds, spices and cakes. Fish and seafood from Mediterranean and Atlantic as well as the culinary delicatessen, above all meat, sausage and cheese are typical for the regional kitchen.

Famous all over the world is the cold vegetable soup gazpacho analog “, a creamy mass of green paprika, tomatoes, cucumber, garlic, olive oil and pieces of white bread. A widespread alternative way of eating are the so-called “tapas”, small portions of meals, ham, cheese a.o.

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