Four Aspects of Spanish Culture UNESCO Heritage Listed
UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has recognized as “Intangible Heritage of Humanity” four distinct aspects of Spanish culture that despite their apparent differences are interconnected by shared traditions.
Sang by raucous voices, danced with passion, the sentimental but at times explosive strums of the guitar … those are the main ingredients of Flamenco: a cultural expression of our country the origins of which are cloaked in mystery. But let’s not bother too much with the discussion on whether it originally came from Flanders, whether it was created by Moorish peasants in Andalusia, or whether it was brought from unknown places to the Spanish peninsula by gypsies. What does it really matter? Listen to the click of a heel, observe how a dress caresses the air under the faint stage light … you will soon come to understand what art is, what the spirit of flamenco is, and why it came to be recognized as an artistic expression deemed indispensable to mankind. If ever you would like to practice this unique art form yourself one day, you should know that at Enforex we offer you the possibility of combining a Spanish course with Flamenco dance classes.
You might have seen one once if you ever were in Cataluña: a group of people challenging the laws of gravity, one supporting the other in an attempt to build a human tower. Architecture, balance and a certain amount of danger come together in this tradition called the “Castells”. A pagan ritual? A religious celebration? Its origins are not entirely known but, although some purport its roots to lie in Tarragona, most consider it to be a cultural expression typical for Valencia. In any case, the debate on its origins will soon not seem all that important once you see, while holding your breath, how right in front of you out of a group of people arises a towering construction built by man’s strength alone.
The Mass of the Rooster (the night before Christmas) in Mallorca: a Gregorian chant that since the Middle Ages echoes through the churches of Mallorca reminding us that, despite of what we may have done in life, we are all equal in death. Various characters that represent the different social classes, Death and the Three Fates (the one that spins the thread of life, the one that measures it, and the one that eventually cuts it) all participate in this drama. What are its origins? Is it in some way related to the sibyls, oracles of Ancient Greece? We don’t know. But what we do know is that this tradition is older than the stones with which the temples, in which this spectacle takes place each year before Christmas, were built.
The Mediterranean Diet
Are you eating bread with tomato and olive oil? Does it come with some Iberian ham? Before you finish your plate be sure to take a second to realize that you are now experiencing what is perhaps the most tangible representative of the new Heritages of Humanity: the Mediterranean Diet. Sure, it is a prize we share with some other countries: Greece, Morocco, Italy and France take a similar view of food which, broadly considered, consists in dishes prepared with natural grown products and preferably in some way involving the use of olive oil. It might be the more controversial of heritage listings as well. Ever since in 1948 they coined the term – “Mediterranean Diet” – after observing its benefits in the population of Crete, it has been subject to speculation: Are we, inhabitants of Mediterranean countries, really that healthy?
As you can see, culture goes way beyond what you might expect at first. Humanity and its culture does not only refer to history or art: it is also very much a matter of sentiments, feelings, passion (both religious and worldly), and simply the enjoyment of life.