Religion in Spain

Religion in Spain has seen many faces and survived many struggles through the centuries. Today, Spain is a predominately Catholic country. However, with the continued influx of foreigners, numerous religions are also observed and accounted for throughout Spain.

Catholicism has played, and continues to play such a large role in the life of the country, that it can easily be called one of the bases on which the country stands politically and culturally.

Spanish Catholics are religious in a uniquely Spanish way, quite different from other predominately Catholic countries.

While religion is taken with absolute seriousness, there is a very large ingredient of laughter and enjoyment that spices Spanish Catholicism.

Religion has been expanded to include life’s joyous aspects as well as the austere ones that are the more stereotypical traits of Catholicism.

Influence of Religion in Society

In the last 50 years there have many forces which have led to fundamental changes to the place of the Catholic church in Spanish society such as the massive shift of people moving from farms and villages to the larger cities which has led to an improved economic state for the majority of Spaniards.

Thus, Spanish society became a bit more materialistic and modern in thinking and less religious. These changes transformed the way Spaniards defined their religious identity.

Being a Catholic in Spain today has less and less to do with regular attendance of Mass and more to do with the routine observance of important rituals such as baptisms, marriage, and religious holidays.

It is no secret that Spaniards are strong believers in Catholicism, it is one thing you definitely can’t miss while travelling through Spain since the church’s physical presence is virtually everywhere – in architecture, art, food and the general lifestyle and celebrations of all Spaniards.

The most grandiose building in every town is inevitably the church.

The main Cathedral of the larger cities such as Seville and Madrid are museums in themselves, containing the frescoes of such great artists as El Greco.

The churches influence even filters down to special pastries such as those you will find in Santiago de Compostela, which bear little crosses on the dough. Most of all, you will see it in the lives of the Spanish through their celebrations and lifestyle, the main focus always being on family.

Spanish Holidays and Religion

Spanish holidays are always spent with family and are always celebrated with genuine enthusiasm with lots of singing, dancing and drinking until the early hours of morning.

Often, it is hard to believe that most of these fiestas are actually religious celebrations of Saints and historic religious events.

Romerias (pilgrimages to a religious shrine) are the best example of how religion and “alegria” (happiness) perfectly blend.

Hundreds and often thousands of Spaniards gather and make their way to the local (and far away) shrine of the devoted Virgen (Virgin) or Santo (Saint) where a great deal of drinking, singing and dancing are albeit required!

The one occasion that most clearly demonstrates the Spanish conviction and pride in being Catholic is in the amazing processions during Holy Week that take place all over Spain, but are especially important and spectacular in Andalusia.

Thousands of Spaniards take to the streets to demonstrate their faith in spectacular and heartfelt processions. Though the processions are often somber, the overall mood is of a joyful celebration of life.

Even the wild and crazy Carnival in Cadiz is a religious celebration!

The presence of Catholicism is in almost every aspect of life here in Spain, giving Spaniards great comfort and pride.

The Spanish are also very open to other cultures and religions and make room for those who embrace and practice different religions throughout Spain.

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