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As a travel expert specializing in Spain, I’ve come to appreciate not only the breathtaking landscapes of Spain’s Costa Blanca but also the rich tapestry of local customs that make this region uniquely captivating. The following are just a small number of customs and traditions you may encounter when you Visit Costa Blanca Spain.
1. Siesta – The Sacred Pause
Perhaps the most well-known Spanish custom, the siesta, is alive and well in Costa Blanca. Between 2 pm to 5 pm, don’t be surprised if you find many shops closed and streets eerily quiet. The inhabitants are likely enjoying their afternoon rest or spending quality time with family. If you’re a visitor, use this time to indulge in a leisurely lunch or a peaceful stroll on the beach.
2. Las Hogueras de San Juan
While Spain is famous for its festivals, in Costa Blanca, Las Hogueras de San Juan holds a special place. Celebrated during the summer solstice, usually around June 20-24, Alicante becomes a hub of festivities. Large wooden and papier-mâché statues, often satirical in nature, are erected throughout the city. By the end of the festivities, these statues are set ablaze, symbolizing the triumph of good over evil. Concurrently, there’s dancing, music, and a palpable spirit of unity.
3. The Mediterranean Diet – More than Just Food
The local cuisine of Costa Blanca is an embodiment of the Mediterranean diet, emphasizing fresh vegetables, fish, and olive oil. Rice dishes, particularly paella, are a staple. However, here, it’s not just about the ingredients but the way of eating. Sharing meals with family, lingering over courses, and enjoying every bite is as much a part of the dining experience as the food itself.
4. Paseo Marítimo – The Evening Stroll
After dinner, especially during the warmer months, locals in Costa Blanca engage in the “paseo marítimo” or evening seaside stroll. Walking along the promenades, families, couples, and groups of friends can be seen enjoying the cooler temperatures, engaging in conversations, and soaking in the serene beauty of the Mediterranean.
5. Moros y Cristianos
This historic festival, meaning “Moors and Christians,” is celebrated in many parts of Spain, but it’s particularly vibrant in Costa Blanca towns like Alcoy and Villajoyosa. It commemorates the battles between Moors (Muslims) and Christians during the period of Reconquista. The streets come alive with elaborate parades, with participants dressed in intricate costumes representing both sides. Battles are re-enacted, and the air resonates with music and dance.
6. The Art of Pottery
While perhaps not as well-publicized as other Spanish regions, Costa Blanca boasts a rich tradition of pottery, particularly in towns like Agost. Whether it’s the iconic “botijos” (clay water containers) or decorative pieces, the craftsmanship here speaks of centuries-old techniques passed down through generations. When visiting, a pottery workshop can provide a hands-on experience into this age-old art.
7. Grapes at New Year
While this is a tradition celebrated across Spain, it’s joyfully embraced in Costa Blanca. As the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, it’s customary to eat 12 grapes, one for each chime. This is believed to bring luck for each month of the coming year. Whether you’re in a bustling town square or a quiet family home, you’ll find everyone partaking in this sweet and hopeful ritual.
8. Alicante’s Mercado Central
To truly immerse oneself in the day-to-day customs of Costa Blanca, a visit to Alicante’s Mercado Central is a must. This bustling market offers a glimpse into the daily life of locals. From fresh produce and meats to cheeses and wines, the market is a sensory delight. But beyond the goods, it’s the interactions – the bartering, the exchange of recipes, and the shared camaraderie – that showcase the essence of the community.
Costa Blanca, with its azure waters and golden sands, is undoubtedly a visual treat. But to truly understand and appreciate its charm, one must delve into the customs and traditions that pulse through its towns and villages. These local practices, steeped in history yet vibrantly alive in the present, offer travelers a deeper, more enriching experience of Spain’s beloved White Coast.