Family & Culture in Spain

Written by lionel braud
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Family & Culture in Spain
The close quarters of these villas suggest tight family networks. (Antequera, Spain image by Peter Jarvis from

The culture of Spain still regards the values and customs of the historical Spain, but has modified tradition with the advent of modernism and technology. Historically, Spain has placed heavy importance on family and kin relationships despite the assimilation of modern points of view. Today, Spain continues to assert traditional customs in business, school career and marriage.

Family Structure

Historically, the favoured familial structure of Spaniards consisted of the stem family, in which male heirs passed on their property, usually an estate, to a single heir. Also the parents would live in the same estate until the heir married. This tradition, however, is slowly declining. Modernisation and urbanisation has rendered the stem family as an archaic idea, although it has not disappeared completely, especially in rural areas. In its place, familial structure has adopted the nuclear family or extended family structure in response to capitalism and changes in the role of women. A nuclear family consists of a mother, father and any number of children. The extended family consists of the above plus second generation relatives.


Proper introduction of two people meeting for the first time shake hands. Men hug each other followed by a gentle pat on the shoulder. Women greet by an exchange of kisses on the cheek. People address each other as Don or Dona, followed by their first name during a formal festivity.

Guests usually give chocolates, flowers or liqueur to the hostess.

Spanish culture also practices formal table customs. The host or hostess eats first, and motions for the guests to sit down.


Historically, Spaniards extended their kinship beyond the family household. For example, relatives shared a family business. Today, however, this practice has diminished. Most choose their own career path.

Spaniard families acknowledge every family member and ancestor as a whole family. This bilateral system of kinship regards mothers and fathers as equals in contributing lineage to the child. In other words, the daughter remains close to her mother's relatives as well as the father's.


Distribution of property and other material assets can either go to the youngest child, or to multiple heirs. For example, in most parts of Spain, portions of an estate, such as a farm, are divided equally among heirs. Some may receive physical assets and others may be entitled to liquid cash.

Interesting Facts

Like most languages, language in Spain is not homogeneous. The three major languages of Spain vary in dialect: Galician, Basque and Catalan. Most Spaniards speak the Castilian tongue.

Food in Spain is not spicy, but does exhibit tangy and garlicky flavours.

The post-Franco period birthed new innovations in music and late-night entertainment.

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