EXPLAINED: Why Spain has a bank holiday on August 15

SPAIN may seem to grind to a halt in August and many business close up for ‘vacaciones’, at least outside of resort towns, but August 15 is the one day that is officially a holiday across Spain.

This year, 2022, it falls on a Monday which means workers across Spain are enjoying a long weekend unlike last year when the holiday fell on a Sunday. When this occurs it is up to regional authorities to decide whether they want to move the ‘festivo’ to Monday.

This may seems strange but each year Spain’s autonomous regions can choose which days they want to observe as bank holidays outside of the few that are set as national bank holidays by Spain’s central government to bring their region up to the quota of 14.

The date August 15, is celebrated because it marks the Assumption of the Virgin, which in the Christian faith commemorates the day the Virgin Mary entered heaven and that means Mass is held at churches across Spain on this day.

This means there is also likely to be a fiesta taking place somewhere near you.

In Madrid, it is celebrated at the Virgen de la Paloma with a street festival and music events on stages in the La Latina district, traditional chulapo outfits for the locals and partying until dawn.

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Locals wearing chulapo suits enjoy the fiesta of the Virgen de la Paloma in Madrid. Photo: Fiona Govan

Many coastal towns celebrate with impressive firework displays while most people just use the day as an opportunity to meet with friends and family and enjoy a day at the beach. Or else return to the traditional family pueblo and enjoy the fiesta.

All public offices are closed as well as most businesses and even supermarkets will operate Sunday opening hours if they are not shut up entirely for the day.

The next public holiday observed across Spain won’t be until the National Day on October 12.


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