Next year’s bank holiday calendar has been issued already, giving Spanish workers plenty of time to plan their bonus days off and everyone else to work out when they will need to get extra groceries in before the shops shut.
Of the 12 annual national holidays, nine are considered ‘non-substitutable’ – given that most are global and deep-rooted traditionally – of which New Year’s Day is not one, since it falls on a Sunday which is a non-working day in any case.
If January 6, or ‘Three Kings Day’ – when Spain normally hands out Christmas presents – falls on a Sunday, it is usually moved to Monday, January 7, but in 2017 it is on a Friday so workers and school children will get a long weekend.
Otherwise, the ‘fixed’ national holidays are Good Friday, which falls on April 14; ‘Labour Day’, always on May 1 – a Monday in 2017; Tuesday, August 15, ‘Day of the Assumption’; Thursday, October 12, ‘Hispanic Day’, historically to mark the conquering of the Americas but now simply ‘National Day for Spain’ so as not to remind Latin American residents of the bloodthirsty colonisation; Wednesday, November 1, ‘All Saint’s Day’, when Spain traditionally honours its departed loved ones and attends to graves; Wednesday, December 6, ‘Constitution Day’, and Friday, December 8, ‘Day of the Immaculate Conception’; and finally, Christmas Day, which falls on a Monday in 2017.
Thursday, December 7 may see scant activity in offices, shops, restaurants and other trade premises, especially the public sector, as many employees will either take it as annual leave to give themselves a five-day break or will be given it by their employers.
The same may happen on Friday, October 13.
Boxing Day is not a public holiday in Spain, so British workers should plan ahead and book a day’s annual leave if they do not want to drag themselves into the office with a Christmas hangover.
‘Non-fixed’ bank holidays
Four other non-fixed ‘fiestas’ – as bank holidays are referred to in Spain – which not all regions observe include January 2, a Monday, which will only be a day off in, curiously enough, all regions starting with the letter A: Andalucía, Asturias, and Aragón, as well as Murcia, Castilla y León and the Spanish-owned city-province of Melilla on the northern Moroccan coast.
Maundy Thursday will be a bank holiday in 2017 in all regions for the first time ever, except for Catalunya which will continue to take Easter Monday, April 17, off instead – in the past, Spain had an almost even split of regions taking Easter Monday off work and those opting for Maundy Thursday instead.
This year, San José – or Saint Joseph’s Day – falls on a Sunday, but most regions which observe it are expected to take Monday, March 20 off instead of the usual March 19.
For Valencia, March 19 has always been sacred – at least in the province of the same name and that of Castellón – because of the region’s huge Fallas festival, where giant and colourful papier-mâché statues satirising celebrities, politicians and current affairs are set up, falleras in traditional costume party round the clock, and the monuments are then burnt down.
Other than in the north of the province, Alicante does not celebrate the Fallas and it is common to find shops open just 30 kilometres away from the main hub of fiesta activity.
So far, only Extremadura and Madrid have chosen to take March 20 off work.
Tuesday, July 25, the Apostle Santiago Day, is celebrated generally in all regions, but each one may decide to move it to the Monday to avoid disruptions with workers taking the day off in between.
At the moment, only Galicia, Navarra and the Basque Country will take July 25 off, but elsewhere in the country most towns will have an extra ‘local’ bank holiday in the summer to mark their annual festivals.
This year, 2016, ‘Labour Day’ on May 1 was a Sunday, and Christmas Day will also be so, meaning these two fiestas are effectively lost.
Regional bank holidays
Region-only bank holidays also apply – these are Tuesday, January 24 (Aragón and Castilla y León); Tuesday, February 28 (Andalucía);
Wednesday, March 1 (Balearic Islands);
Tuesday, May 2 (Madrid);
Wednesday, May 17 (Galicia);
Tuesday, May 30 (Canary Islands);
Wednesday, May 31 (Castilla-La Mancha);
Friday, June 9 (Murcia and La Rioja);
Friday, July 28 (Cantabria);
Friday, September 1 in Melilla and the other Spanish-owned city-province on north Africa’s coast, Ceuta, for the ‘Day of the Sacrifice’, and Saturday, September 2 for Ceuta’s regional day;
Friday, September 8 (Asturias and Extremadura);
Monday, September 11 (Catalunya), and Monday, October 9 (Valencia).
Navarra and the Basque Country do not have ‘regional days’, but they always take both Maundy Thursday and Easter Monday as bank holidays instead.