In 1999 my first ´bi-cultural´ house parties gained coverage on national Spanish television. They were bizarre, great fun, hard work, a fascinating show case for cultural differences between the Spanish and the English (and a nightmare in parallel marketing!)
The farmhouse hosted a roughly equal number of Spanish and English-speaking guests and, during this 10-day bi-cultural, bi-lingual holiday, we would alternate the language spoken and the house culture (food, music, videos) etc. on a daily basis. Actresses, lawyers, butchers and vegetarians of both nationalities all ventured up the track to the Pyrenean Farmhouse.
These house parties were perfect ‘Big Brother’ material – not only do people’s true colours shine through on such a holiday but so too do common cultural characteristics.
Over the next few days I will write my own anecdotes on the differences I have encountered in cultural attitudes and perceptions between the British and the Spanish. I will touch on some of the following subjects:
FOOD: (‘The religion of the Spanish tortilla’, ‘paella problems’, ‘repeating food’, ‘ no melon or chickpeas tonight dear’, ‘all on one plate’ and other stories.)
SOCIALISING: (‘I will pay I promise!’, ‘no thank you’, ‘money’ etc.)
SHOES (‘where are my slippers’, ‘don’t wear your wellington boots for Santa Claus’ etc.)
WEATHER (‘rain’, ‘sunshine’, ‘heat’ and ‘catching colds’ etc.)
POR FAVOR! (or not! )
FAMILY AND CHILDREN (‘the mother-in-law and the family clan’, ‘don’t let the children get cold’ etc. )
ALSO: TIMING, BUSINESS CULTURE , PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS etc.
On many subjects my experience is greater among the Basque community in the north of Spain where I have lived for the past 8 years. As this is such an excitingly diverse country, attitudes and values can change from one region to the next.
Once these topics are covered I will spend more time writing about the idiosyncrasies and traditions of the Basque mountain culture of the Pyrenees. I owe so much to the noble Basque shepherds who have helped me raise my daughter single-handedly, and it is a culture that I have come to admire greatly and have had the privilege to know well.