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Thursday, September 27, 2012 (read 18463 times)
Spanish Culture and Folkloreby Laura
In Spain, as it is with every other peoples, folklore is a large constituent in the composition of cultural identity. As a river, Spanish history is one of turbulent waters with a remarkably meandering discourse. It flows so broadly through the arid planes of the Arab Caliphs where it once nourished a fruitful religious tolerance; with the Conquest and the Inquisition, it cascades into the decadence of the Golden Age giving birth to an Empire. Amongst the furthest and most influential headwaters is a Roman source – a source which today finds itself at confluence with much of Western Europe. As the Spanish blindly navigate this river towards the estuary – for man indeed walks in a vain, vain shadow – they have most recently endured the casualties of the Second Republic: its causes and its consequences. It is commonplace knowledge that like as the hart desires the water-brooks, a country’s national identity longs after a certain folkloric element. In the case of Spain and her truly particular inheritance, this folkloric element is far from lacking; it is an equally florid and most intricate element, and a most relevant aspect of Spanish identity.
A defining characteristic of all things ‘Spanish’ and therefore also characteristic of Spanish Folklore is the topic of the country’s unification. Despite the explicit connotation of the word ‘unification’ suggesting, perhaps, an ideology of ‘one country, one people’, simultaneously and quite contrarily Spain’s unification connotes a divided and distinguished people most unnaturally brought together under the broad generalisation of Spanish identity. This is, of course, the richness of the Spanish culture proposition: that whilst the country is now united by one monarchy, by one government and under one name, at least three languages, seventeen autonomous communities, and an abundance of traditions, mannerisms and entire cultures continue to thrive under this one banner.
All such as be of Spanish in heritage has also inherited of Moorish, Gothic or Celtic culture, and such is the nature of Spain’s folk tradition. Flamenco screams something of the subduing of a Moorish identity on one hand, whilst, on the other, the Asturian Bandas de Gaitas so strongly resemble the Celtic tradition so prevalent on the British Isles. The deification of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, or El Cid, still reverberates through the reading of that unique chante de geste Cantar de mio Cid, and also beyond that piece of literature. In El Cid the image of a Spanish hero verily exists – a man who reached such high estate for his valour and strength in battle, assisting in the Conquest of Spain for the Catholic see – and it is on this trusty steed that such a legend is propagated and praised. So vast and profound is the field on Spanish folklore, but equally bountiful and plenteous is its crop.
Keywords: folklore,spanish culture,spanish customs,spanish traditions