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Calendar of traditions, festivals, and holidays in Spanish-speaking countries

1 January

Año Nuevo (New Year´s Day). A public holiday in all Spanish-speaking countries.

6 January

Día de Reyes (Epiphany/Twelfth Night). In many Spanish-speaking countries, this is when presents are given, rather than on Christmas Day.

20 January

San Sebastián (Saint Sebastian´s Day). Celebrated in Spain with parades, sporting events, and bullfights, it is also a day of celebration and dancing for the people of the Basque city that bears the name of the saint.

2 February

La Candelaria (Candlemas). An occasion for celebrations and parades in many Spanish-speaking countries.

3 February

Fiesta de San Blas (patron saint of Paraguay). A public holiday.

5 February (Mexico)

Día de la Constitución (Constitution Day). A public holiday.

21 February (Mexico)

Anniversary of the birth of Benito Juárez. A famous nineteenth-century statesman, who was twice president. A public holiday.

26 February

Aberri Eguna Basque national day and a public holiday in the Basque country of Spain.

12-19 March

Las Fallas One of the best known fiestas in Spain. They are held in Valencia in eastern Spain. The high point of the celebration is on the last night, when the cabezudos (carnival figures with large heads), which have been carefully prepared by the falleros, are paraded through the streets and then burned, all this to the accompaniment of an enormous fireworks display.

23 April

San Jordi The feast day of Catalonia´s patron saint. According to custom, women give men books and men give women roses on this Catalan version of St Valentine´s Day.

1 May

Día del Trabajo (Labor Day). A public holiday in all Spanish-speaking countries.

5 May (Mexico)

Cinco de mayo. The anniversary of the victory of the state of Puebla against the French invasion of 1862. A public holiday.

15 May (Paraguay)

Día de la Independencia. A public holiday.

25 May (Argentina)

The anniversary of the May revolution of 1810.

20 June (Argentina)

Día de la Bandera (Argentinian National Day). A public holiday.

(Colombia)

Día de la Independencia A public holiday.

24 June

San Juan (Feast of St John). Traditionally fires are lit on the night of San Juan in order to keep away the cold of winter. In some places, people jump over the fires and in others the faithful will try to walk through them barefoot. The custom is slowly dying out, but continues in many parts of the Spanish-speaking world.

5 July (Venezuela)

Día de la Independencia A public holiday.

6-14 July

Sanfermines The festival of el encierro (the 'running of the bulls'), takes place in Pamplona in northern Spain. The animals are released into the barricaded streets and people run in front of them, in honor of the town´s patron saint, San Fermín, who was put to death by being dragged by bulls.

9 July (Argentina)

Día de la Independencia A public holiday.

25 July

Fiesta de Santiago (Feast of St James). The famous Camino de Santiago, the pilgrimage of thousands of people from all over Spain and many other parts of Europe to the holy city of Santiago de Compostela, takes place in the week leading up to St James' Day, 25 July. The city also has its fiestas around this time. The streets are full of musicians and performers for two weeks of celebrations culminating in the Festival del Apóstol.

28 July (Peru)

Día de la Independencia A public holiday.

6 August (Bolivia)

Día de la Independencia A public holiday.

10 August (Ecuador)

Primer Grito de Independencia A public holiday commemorating the first cry of independence in 1809.

17 August (Argentina)

A public holiday to celebrate the anniversary of the death of the San Martín who liberated Argentina from Spanish rule in 1816.

25 August (Uruguay)

Día de la Independencia A public holiday.

11 September

Día Nacional de Cataluña Calendar of traditions, festivals, and holidays Catalonian National Day and a public holiday in Catalonia.

13 September (Mexico)

Commemoration of the Niños Héroes (child heroes) who fell while defending the castle of Chapultepec against European invaders in 1847.

15 September (Mexico)

Conmemoración de la Proclamación de la Independencia Throughout the country, at 11 o'clock at night, there is a communal shout, El Grito, in memory of Padre Hidalgo's cry of independence from the Spanish in the town of Dolores.

18 September (Chile)

Día de la Independencia A public holiday.

12 October

Día de la Hispanidad A public holiday, this is also Columbus Day, which is celebrated in all Spanish-speaking countries, as well as the US, in commemoration of the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus in 1492. In Spanish-speaking countries of the Americas, it is also called the Día de la Raza (literally, Day of the Race) in celebration of the mestizaje, the mingling of races, which gave birth to the populations of today.

31 October

Todos los Santos (All Saints). People all over the Spanish-speaking world flock to the cemeteries on this and the following day el día de los Difuntos/Muertos to put flowers on the graves of relatives and friends and to remember the dead. In Mexico this is an important festival in which Catholic traditions are mixed with those of pre-Hispanic religions.

10 November (Argentina)

Fiesta de la Tradición This festival takes place throughout the country but is especially important in the town of San Antonio de Areco, near Buenos Aires. The capital also holds a festival in November, the Semana de Buenos Aires, in honor of its patron saint San Martín de Tours.

20 November (Mexico)

Día de la Revolución de 1910 A public holiday to celebrate the revolution of 1910.

2 December (Mexico)

Virgen de Guadalupe Celebrations are held in honor of the patron saint of the country, with music and dancers, in particular the concheros, who dance, wearing bells around their ankles, to the sound of stringed instruments and conches.

25 December

Navidad (Christmas Day) A time of great religious celebration in all Spanish-speaking countries. In many places, re-enactments of the nativity are held, with a variety of traditions, parades, and costumes.

28 December

Día de los Inocentes This is the equivalent to April Fool's Day. In most Spanish-speaking countries it is a day for playing tricks on people. And if you trick someone into lending you money for that day, you keep it and tell them que te lo paguen los Santos Inocentes (let the Holy Innocents pay you back).

31 December

La noche de Fin de Año This is often the occasion for parties, and at midnight the New Year is welcomed with much noise and merrymaking. In Spain and in many other Spanish-speaking countries, the families gather together twelve seconds before midnight para tomar las uvas (to see the New Year in by eating one grape on each chime of the clock) for good luck.

Movable feasts

Martes de Carnaval (Shrove Tuesday). The last Tuesday before the beginning of Cuaresma (Lent). Carnaval is celebrated in many Spanish-speaking countries just before this date. In many places, there are masked balls and parades. The biggest in Spain are those of Cádiz, on the south coast, and Madrid, where a strange ceremony called el entierro de la sardina (literally the burial of the sardine) takes place. In Mexico, the best-known are in Veracruz and Mazatlán.

Pascua (Easter) - Semana Santa (Holy Week). The week leading up to Easter Sunday is the most important time of religious celebration throughout the Spanish-speaking world. In many places, there are processions in which statues of Christ or the Virgin Mary, often covered in jewels and flowers, are carried to the church.

Feria de abril Seville's famous Feria de abril (April festival) takes place in the week following Easter. The site of the feria is decked out with hundreds of casetas or small marquees, hired by companies or private individuals, in which people entertain, eat tapas, drink manzanilla (a pale dry sherry), play music, and dance sevillanas, the popular dances of Andalucía. Many people dress up in colourful traditional costumes, some of them on horseback or in horse-drawn carriages.

Corpus Christi Corpus Christi, 9 weeks after Easter is celebrated in most Spanish-speaking countries with religious parades.

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