La familia. The family, as your Spanish tutor in London will tell you, is incredibly important to Spanish people. It’s a cornerstone of the Spanish culture, passed down from one generation to the next. Spanish families are typically very close and supportive, taking every opportunity to spend time together. This applies not just to immediate family, but also the extended family, so cousins tend to grow up together and this helps to reinforce the strength of the family bond.
The Spanish are very family orientated, probably more so than many of their British and other Northern European counterparts, where extended families can sometimes become quite dispersed under the pressures of fast-paced modern life. The Spanish family is a strong unit, which embraces and esteems members from the eldest generation down to the youngest: the Spanish are loving and tolerant towards children (not to suggest the British aren’t!) and family occasions often include children running around boisterously having fun without drawing any reprimands from the adults – they’re just being kids after all. Likewise, the older generation is also valued and well cared for. It is much more unusual, for example, for elderly relatives to be placed in care homes than it is in the UK. Instead they are cared for at home wherever possible.
Family meal times are observed in most households and this is just as much about talking and socialising as it is about the food itself. It’s the observance and upkeep of these traditional values and habits that keeps la familia central to Spanish life.