Catalonian Culture Vs Spanish Culture

It happened many years ago, that I met a man from Barcelona at a bar in England whom I asked if he considered himself to be Spanish or Catalonian. At first this man seemed surprised by my question till I explained to him that I had always heard that certain groups in Spain considered themselves to be more from a certain region then the country. For instance that some in the Basque country felt themselves not to be Spanish but Basques only. I even mentioned how this seemed a bit odd to me, as I would never say when asked that I was not British but Scottish.

Once I explained my question to this gentleman whose name was Jorge, he told me that the matter was not such an easy one. Yes, he did say he was Spanish and was proud of it but on the other hand he wanted it to be clear that his part of the country was of a different culture then the rest of Spain. For instance he mentioned how in Catalonia, the sport of bullfighting was not one that was practiced, given that it was not a part of their culture. This to the extent that there was not even a single bullfighting rink to be found in all of Catalonia.

Jorge also went to include in his arguments that though Spanish was his native tongue, which he spoke as his own; he also spoke Catalan and would not want to forget this language which he felt was a part of his ancestry. I even detected a certain tone of dignity in his voice as he made clear that Catalan was not a dialect as many might think but a language which should be respected as such.

Many were the topics this gentleman from Catalonia and I discussed on that evening however one I did find particularly comic and that was when Jorge told me that many a tourist went to Spain looking to buy a Mexican hat known as a charro. These hats are often referred to as sombreros though this word in fact in Spanish simply means hat, which could apply to anything one puts on ones head. Jorge found it odd how mostly American tourists came to Spain looking for something which was basically Mexican though he could understand that it was the money offered by these tourists that made them available. This despite the fact that these rather large hats had nothing to do with the culture of Spain.

In all I would say that this man showed me how one can both be proud of ones region while at the same time not forgetting the country where one was born in.


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