Why is July 25th a public holiday in Spain?

13 Jul 2021

Students on our Spanish courses ask us this question when they learn that there will be no classes on that day. Our answer: it is the feast day of St. James the Apostle.

However, even though we say this our students aren’t really any the wiser as the history of the saints is generally unknown. Therefore, we will tell you a little about this holiday:

This apostle is one of the most important figures in Christianity. Around the year 813 in the time of the King of Asturias Alfonso II the Chaste, a Christian hermit saw some lights on the uninhabited mountain. There they found a tomb of possible Roman origin in which they found a decapitated body with its head under its arm. The king ordered a church to be built and from this the cathedral originated, since this is how this saint was buried.

Pilgrimages to this place have become both a cultural and sporting phenomenon. The routes can start from any part of Europe to finally arrive and get your compostelana stamped, marking the completion of your journey.

Several communities follow this festival. Of course, Galicia is a province that follows this festival closely, although in the city of Bilbao this saint has also been revered as the official patron saint since 1643. The Cathedral Basilica of Santiago is located in the centre of Casco Viejo, the old town. Next to it there is also a fountain by Luis Paret built in the age of Carlos III.

Along with the history and possible locations you can visit around the city at this time, we also have a traditional cake that is eaten during the festival which is the famous Tarta de Santiago.

With a simple recipe of 5 eggs, 250g of ground almonds, a teaspoon of cinnamon, 250g of sugar, grated lemon peel and powdered sugar to decorate; you too can have a go at making this delicious cake as a perfect celebration of the day.

We also invite you to visit the Cathedral this July 25th as there is usually a special celebration on that day. By incorporating the discovery of a country’s culture into your language learning, you allow yourself to fully understand the meanings of words and phrases. This need to understand is what pushes you to improve you Spanish so that you can express and communicate what surrounds you at that moment.

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