National holidays in Spain are a time when the entire country comes together and gets involved in the festivities, so as a rule of thumb, pretty much everything completely shuts down. This includes shops and banks as well as most cafes and bars. Holidays in Spain are taken on the exact day they fall whether that be midweek or weekend. The holiday is not moved to the Monday or Friday to create three day weekends as is often done in other countries. This means that a large percentage of people take days off, a “puente” (bridge), to create four or five day long weekends. For example, if a holiday falls on Tuesday everyone also takes Monday off, “bridging” their holidays so to speak. During puentes public transport is usually extremely busy and overpriced and if possible it’s recommended not to travel during these days.
Tomorrow August 15, we experience the national holiday called “Feast of the Assumption” (La Asuncion-National Holiday). The Feast of the Assumption is probably the biggest and most well known public holiday and is better known as the Virgen de la Paloma, which has been celebrated since the 18th century. The holiday starts on August 11th and culminates on the 15th with the procession of a picture of the Virgin Mary through the streets. Towns such as San Pedro de Alcantara also hold a religious service at 20.00 every evening during this period at the main church, culminating with a procession through the streets carrying a float with the Virgin Mary displayed. If you get the opportunity to view one of these processions then you must go as it is very synonymous with Spanish culture and a true experience. The streets will be full of people all enjoying the atmosphere usually with tapas being served until the early hours of the morning.
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