Spain Sunday: Andalucia Day

Andalusia or Andalucía (with a C and a accented i) has a birthday on February 28th so we’ve got a long weekend!

Here’s the birthday story:

Once upon a time there was a dictator who was overthrown and a big scramble for power led to the king being exiled. The people were excited about the new lack of a dictator (and king, I guess) so they wrote a constitution. This constitution was to give all the areas autonomy over themselves. Andalucia got in line to become an autonomous region. But then, the civil war broke out.

So once upon a time a different dictator overthrew the government and there was a big scramble for power which led to many countries assisting. Half a million people died. This dictator was not overthrown and died peacefully (in 1975). The people were excited about the new lack of a dictator (again) so they wrote (another) constitution. This constitution was, you guessed it, to give all the areas autonomy over themselves. Also the king and queen were back but no one really cares about the monarchs anymore.

The constitution was created December 6th 1978 and Andalucia didn’t have to get in line- the people voted to become an autonomous community. This vote took place on February 28th 1980 and in 1981 it became a real live autonomous community! Yay. So Andalucia Day is February 28th.

Cool story, but what is an autonomous community?

They’re a lot like states in the United States. Sort of? Each autonomous community has their own

  • capital city (Seville)
  • flag (green and white)
  • coat of arms (got some nice lions on it)
  • anthem (which has words even though Spain is one of the few countries on earth which doesn’t have words in its national anthem)
  • name – Andalucia.
  • borders -officially recognized
  • president (a woman)
  • 3 branches of government (miniature version)
  • languages (sometimes)

They govern themselves with their own president, parliament and judicial branch. They can’t go overboard with this, though. Spain laws are blanket laws that stop major changes and EU laws blanket over that which stop other major changes. But it feels good to govern oneself so the autonomous communities are pretty happy (except for one).

They can decide smaller things like school systems and subjects, holidays, languages, finances, health and social services, and cultural things. Each region used to be their own kingdom so many places have their own language and culture. For instance there are the languages of Basque, Catalan and Galician which are often taught in schools alongside Spanish.

Andalucia doesn’t have its own language unless you count all the dropping the final S, dropping half the word, or just randomly adding Se into conjugations. Ugh.  If you remember in Toy Story they reset Buzz Lightyear and he started speaking Spanish. In Spanish speaking countries they dubbed it so he would speak with a thicker accent. In Spain they dubbed it into an Andalucian accent.

Language or accents aside the people really are different across regions. This isn’t just a Boston “pak the ca” vs “park the car” thing. People have different blood types in higher rates based on their nationality. One region has an extraordinarily high Type O frequency compared with normally occurring Type Os around the world.

So people are culturally different, some speak a different language, they have different naming regulations and last names. Everything is different. It is not comparable to American states at all. So it’s nice they can choose what they want to teach in schools or what is important for their budgets.

How do we celebrate Andalucia day?

Well it’s important to have the day off, obviously. We have a “puente” (bridge) that is when they give you extra time off to bridge over the weekend – thus making a long weekend. Some people had Friday off (we didn’t). But we have time off until Thursday.

In Malaga they have the whole week off and have a big traditional breakfast at school. Chris’s school provided this traditional breakfast for the teachers. My school gave me a pin with Andalucia’s colors on it (and then actually gave me the day off because of a field trip).

Most people travel. Martos is hosting a whole bunch of events inlcuding Flamenco dancing, guitar, movie screenings and parties. We’ll try and catch these if we get back from our vacation in time.

Where are we going? Probably the most Andalucian place you can (besides the capital) Granada. Home of everyone’s favorite King and Queen (Ferdinand and Isabella), the last Moorish strong hold and one of the best Moorish palaces on earth. So we’ll be as Andalucian as possible as we eat free tapas, tour the Alhambra, see Ferdinand and Isabella’s tomb and hike the Sierra Nevada.

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