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San Juan

June 24th is “San Juan”. Despite being a bank holiday in some areas of Spain, celebrations actually take place on the 23rd, in the festival known as “Verbena de San Juan”.

The festival consists on a dinner party with friends or family, during which people traditionally drink cava and eat “coca de San Juan” (a sweet bread with fruit confit). It’s also very common to light firecrackers and fireworks on the streets, big squares or terraces. There are also bonfires in which people burn old furniture, and in coastal cities many people bathe in the sea at night as a purification ritual.

This festival originated before Christianity. It used to take place on June 21st as the celebration of the summer solstice in the shortest night of the year.  The Church later adapted it to its religious calendar, aligning the celebrations with the birth of San Juan Bautista (Saint John the Baptist) on June 23rd-24th.

Nowadays, the oldest purification rituals haven’t changed, like burning old stuff or bathing in the sea. Still, San Juan is celebrated slightly in different ways across Spain, with Catalonia and Valencia being particularly keen on fireworks. In those regions, June 24th is a bank holiday.

Have you celebrated San Juan in Spain? What do you think of this festival?

 

Let us know in the comments!

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30

6 common mistakes in Spanish

6 common mistakes in Spanish

Making mistakes while learning a language is inevitable as well as necessary. However, depending on their mother tongue, students tend to make certain mistakes other learners don’t. If you’re an English speaker learning Spanish, you might want to become familiar with the most common mistakes you should avoid!

1) Más mejor → mucho  mejor

→ The correct way of saying “much better” in Spanish is mucho mejor.
-        Ejemplo: Mi abuela cocina mucho mejor que mi madre.

2) No problema → no hay problema, sin problema, ningún problema

→ There are a few more natural alternatives to this expression in Spanish, such as: no hay problema, sin problema or ningún problema.
-        Ejemplo: He comprado 2 pizzas, pero somos 5. – Ningún problema, nosotros tenemos dos más.

3) Actualmente → en realidad, de verdad, de hecho

→ The word “actually” in English a false friend with the Spanish word actualmente, which means “currently”. So, the correct translation in Spanish for “actually” is en realidad (contradiction), de verdad (for real) o de hecho (surprisingly).
-        Ejemplos: Dice que es alemán, pero en realidad es Holandés. / Quiero terminar las prácticas y poder trabajar de verdad en una escuela. / Carlos tiene mucha suerte, le ha tocado la lotería. De hecho, ¡es la segunda vez que le toca!

4) Es bien → está bien, está/n bueno/a/os/as

→ It’s a very common mistake for “it’s good”, but the verb ser never works with bien. So, the verb would have to be estar, and it can be followed either by bien (things, events, etc.) or bueno/a/os/as (for food).
-        Ejemplos: el nuevo álbum de Bruno Mars está muy bien. ¿Lo has escuchado? / La paella está muy buena, ¿cómo la has hecho?

5) Estar tarde → llegar tarde

→ This is the result of a literal translation from English. Instead of the verb estar or ser (to be) the correct one for this expression is llegar tarde.
-        Ejemplo: La fiesta empieza en 10 minutos, ¿dónde estás? – Lo siento, llego tarde, estoy esperando el autobús.

6) Gracias para → Gracias por

→ The difference between por and para is particularly difficult for English speakers. If you’d like to thank someone in Spanish, it should always be “gracias por + infinitive” or “Gracias por + noun”.
-        Ejemplo: Gracias por el regalo, me ha encantado.

 

Did you know about these common mistakes?

Let us know in the comments!

 

 

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23

Sant Jordi

Sant Jordi, on April 23rd, is one of the most well-known Catalan festivities. On this day streets are filled with roses to celebrate love, and books to celebrate World Book Day. Don’t miss out on this beautiful spring festival!

According to the legend, a dragon threatened to attack the small village of Montblanc (Tarragona) unless he was presented with a young lady for him to eat. Each year there was a raffle, until one day the princess herself was the chosen one. When she was left in front of the dragon’s cave, Sant Jordi arrived on a white horse with his shiny armor and sword. After a fierce fight, Sant Jordi killed the dragon, and from the blood that dripped to the ground grew a rose bush. Sant Jordi gave the first red rose to the princess.

By coincidence, on the 23rd of April 1616 two great European writers passed away: Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare. At the beginning of the XX century a writer suggested to name the 23rd of April “Book Day” to promote reading in Catalonia. In 1995 the UNESCO officially declared it World Book Day.

So, according to tradition, on this day men give roses to their loved one, and women give them a book. However, this is changing and adapting to modern times, so lately everyone is buying roses and books, not just for their partners, but also for their family, friends and even workmates.

 

Have you had the chance to walk along the Ramblas (Barcelona) on this day?

Let us know in the comments!

 

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*Imagen 1: por calafellvalo. Extraída de Flickr, con licencia Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
*Imagen 2: por Oriolx. Extraída de Wikipedia, con licencia Creative Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

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09

La primavera en español

It’s that time of the year again! Who’s loving this season so far?
Let’s learn some vocabulary to talk about spring in Spanish.
Download the infographic here

We have prepared some vocabulary exercises so that you can practice Spanish in a fun way. Click the button below to find them on Quizlet. You can join our study group on Quizlet to access other vocabulary sets!

Practicar en Quizlet (1)

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02

Easter in Spain: Mona de Pascua

Easter (“Pascua”) is an important time in the Spanish holiday calendar. After looking back on the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus during the Holy Week (“Semana Santa”), Easter is a joyful and sweet celebration.

Even though the tradition varies slightly in each region, Easter is mostly celebrated by eating the “Easter cake”, which in Catalonia is known as “Mona”. Children receive a “Mona” from their godfather each year until they’re 12. Traditionally, the godfather would pick it up on Sunday and on Easter Monday the whole family would go to the countryside and eat the “Mona”, like a picnic.

The cake has changed a lot through the years, from a simple sponge cake decorated with hard-boiled eggs (as many as the child’s age), to a multiple-layer cake decorated with sophisticated chocolate figures. The three essential elements to call a cake a “Mona” are: little chick figurines, colored feathers and chocolate eggs.

In Spain you’ll see these “Monas” in bakeries, cake shops and supermarkets from about a week before Easter Monday until a week after, approximately. Don’t be shy to order your perfect “Mona”, they’re usually customizable in flavor and figurines!

Have you ever tried the Easter cake “Mona”? How is Easter celebrated in your country?

Let us know in the comments!

 

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*Imagen Mona de Pascua por CPGXK. Extraída de Flickr, con licencia Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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