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Top 4 Ways That Peninsular Spanish And Mexican Spanish Are Different


Do you know that Peninsular Spanish and Mexican Spanish are different? This is because different varieties of the same language are used by native speakers in distinct parts of the world. So, the Spanish you can hear among Spanish-speaking countries may sound quite different. 

The English language, for example, has regional varieties such as American English, British English, Australian English, etc. In the case of the Spanish language, there are also many possible pronunciations and accents.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish Table of Contents
  1. Where Are Peninsular Spanish And Mexican Spanish Spoken?
  2. Vocabulary Differences
  3. Pronunciation Differences
  4. Tenses Used
  5. Using Vosotros And Ustedes
  6. So, Which Spanish To Learn?

1. Where Are Peninsular Spanish And Mexican Spanish Spoken?

A View of Spain

Peninsular Spanish (español peninsular), or European Spanish, is the Spanish spoken in Spain. It is the standard language spoken widely across Spain, especially in the north and center. 

Castilian Spanish is another term for the more formally spoken versions of Spanish in Spain. In addition, you can also find the Andalusian dialect in the Southern part of the country and the Murcian dialect in the Autonomous Region of the Community of Murcia. 

Folklore has it that Valladolid, a northwestern city in Spain, is home to the most authentic form of Peninsular Spanish. Although modern linguists debate this, the Spanish language’s roots may remain in this city.

A View of Mexico

Mexican Spanish (español mexicano), sometimes Latin American Spanish, encompasses the Spanish dialects spoken in Mexico. Thus, this variant of Spanish, with particular distinctive characteristics, is primarily spoken by the Mexican people. In terms of numbers, there are more Spanish speakers in Mexico than in any other country, with 99.2% of the population speaking Spanish as the mother tongue. 

You may rethink the varieties of Spanish to study as you gather resources for your Spanish studies. But first, let’s examine the significant distinctions between Peninsular Spanish and Mexican Spanish! 

2. Vocabulary Differences

Let’s begin with the most glaring language barrier between Spanish speakers in Spain and Mexico. Those who study only one Spanish variety may find adapting to the new setting challenging. So first, examine some common terms and see how they’re used.

  • “Okay” in Peninsular Spanish is “vale.” But, on the other hand, in Mexican Spanish is “bien.”
  • “Cake” in Peninsular Spanish is “tarta.” But, on the other hand, in Mexican Spanish is “pastel.”
  • “Juice” in Peninsular Spanish is “zumo.” But, on the other hand, in Mexican Spanish is “jugo.”
  • “Pen” in Peninsular Spanish is “baligrafo.” But, on the other hand, in Mexican Spanish is “pluma.”
  • “Computer” in Peninsular Spanish is “ordenador.” But, on the other hand, in Mexican Spanish is “computadora.”
  • “Car” in Peninsular Spanish is “coche.” But, on the other hand, in Mexican Spanish it is “auto” or “carro.”

As you can see, even the most basic and universal word, like “okay,” is translated into different words in Peninsular Spanish and Mexican Spanish. Since these two dialects utilize several words, Spanish learners should do deep research to become acquainted with some of the terminology they employ in conversations.

3. Pronunciation Differences

You can immediately tell the two languages apart by their sound and apparent lexical distinctions. So, not only are the words spoken differently, but the sounds made by the same alphabet are also distinct.

The letter “z” is pronounced differently in both languages before every vowel. In contrast, the letter “c” is pronounced differently before the vowels “e” and “i.” In Mexico, this would be pronounced with “s,” while in Spain, it would be spoken with “th,” as in the English word “thing.”

A Pair of Shoes

A common example is the pronunciation of “zapatos.”

One distinctive feature of Mexican Spanish, especially in central Mexico, is the widespread reduction or elimination of unstressed vowels. When a vowel is next to the alphabet “s,” this process occurs at a higher frequency than other vowels, which are subsequently shortened or deleted from the structures.

4. Tenses Used

The past tenses are one of the most noticeable linguistic differences between Peninsular Spanish and Mexican Spanish. Present perfect is the preferred tense in Peninsular Spanish, especially for describing activities that occurred very recently in the past. However, Mexican Spanish speakers use the past and present perfect tenses in a manner quite similar to that you are used to hearing in English.

So, if you study and understand all tenses in Spanish, you can communicate effectively in any setting.

5. Using Vosotros And Ustedes

As we covered, there are substantial grammatical and phonetic differences between the Spanish of Spain and Mexico. So now you have to understand the distinction between “vosotros” and “ustedes.”

In Spanish, both “vosotros” and “ustedes” mean “you” in the plural. They serve the same function as the English phrase “You all,” referring to a group of individuals. It’s essential to consider the context in which you’re utilizing a Spanish word or phrase before speaking or writing it. The greatest analogy is the distinction between speaking to friends and speaking to a teacher or someone of higher status.

“Vosotros” is now exclusively used in Spain. It’s the informal term when you’re just hanging out with friends. “Ustedes,” on the other hand, is formal and informal in any context throughout all Spanish-speaking countries. You may use it to refer to anybody, whether they are close friends or coworkers. Therefore you won’t be using “vosotros” very much in Mexican Spanish. If you plan on communicating with locals in Spain, you’ll need to brush up on your Spanish conjugations.

People at a Party

6. So, Which Spanish To Learn?

Many folks have advanced rather far along in their Spanish studies in Spain before settling into the language’s use in South America. Of course, there was some early stumbling in their ability to communicate, but they had no trouble either understanding or being understood.

Different regions speak different types of Spanish; if you want to spend most of your time in one nation, it makes sense to learn the Spanish dialect spoken there. For example, most Europeans choose to study Peninsular Spanish, whereas Americans prefer Latin American Spanish. However, hearing several varieties of Spanish may create challenges for you. So then, it is also crucial to learn as many different dialects and accents of the Spanish language as possible. In addition, it encourages you to value diversity and recognize uniqueness.

Then, whenever you feel like it, visit our website to get a head start on your Spanish studies without spending money on old textbooks you might not enjoy. 

So, have you picked which variety to study on your path to learning Spanish?

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A Traditional Christmas Countdown: Las Posadas in Mexico


Can you believe it’s almost Christmas? It’s the time of year when the cold of winter culminates to a time of warmth, joy, and compassion. 

Did you know that in Mexico, there’s an entire nine-night festival leading up to Christmas? 

In this article, you’ll learn about the Las Posadas holiday, how it got started, and more fun Las Posadas facts.

Are you ready?

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1. What is Las Posadas?

A Silhouette of Mary and Joseph’s Journey

Each year, Mexicans observe the Las Posadas festival from December 16 to December 24. For these nueve noches (“nine nights”), Mexicans commemorate the journey of Mary and Joseph, the parents of Jesus. 

This long holiday, leading up to Navidad (“Christmas”), first came to Mexico in the year 1586. Prior to this, the indigenous people celebrated a pagan holiday for the winter solstice. According to their beliefs, one of their major deities—Huitzilopochtli—was celebrated in the month of December. 

Once Christmas celebrations took root in Mexico, they integrated quite well into the Mexican culture. In fact, Spanish missionaries took advantage of the similarities between the holidays to give the Mexicans a Christian holiday that melded with the traditional Mexican beliefs.  

2. How is Las Posadas Celebrated?

A Procession for Las Posadas

There are several Las Posadas holiday traditions, the most important of which is the procesión (“procession”) depicting Mary and Joseph’s journey. This procession takes place each of the nine nights during the festival, and generally takes one of two forms. 

In one form, two people will act out the roles of Mary and Joseph. They walk around a house or garden, led by a small procession carrying candles. Upon knocking on the door of the house, a song is sung and the two are allowed to enter the home (along with their procession).

In the other form, one half of the group acts as the procession while the other half acts as the innkeepers. Those in the procession, rather than dressing up in costumes, will carry images of Mary and Joseph with them as they walk around the house. The “innkeepers” will be waiting inside the house and let the procession inside once the song is sung. 

Upon entering the posada (“lodging”), the group will first pray and engage in other religious activities. Afterwards, the real party begins! There’s a lot of great food and drinks to be enjoyed, as well as Las Posadas songs to be sung. 

Popular Las Posadas foods include tamales, pambazos, and the favorite holiday drinks atole and a hot punch with a touch of alcohol. Of course, one can expect to find an array of treats, including churros, Christmas cookies, and hot chocolate. Children look forward to each night of Las Posadas just as much as the adults! Every night, they break open a piñata (“piñata”) and get to indulge in lots of caramelo (“candy”) and other sweets. 

People may also sing villancicos (“Christmas carols”) and put on a Christmas obra (“play”), considering the festival’s close proximity to Christmas. 

    → See our vocabulary list of popular Mexican Foods to learn the names of other dishes you might encounter on Las Posadas!

3. Come in, Holy Pilgrims…

Several Christmas Decorations and Sheet Music for Christmas

The singing of the holiday song Pidiendo Posada during the procession is one of the most iconic Las Posadas traditions. Do you know what the lyrics are?

Well, there are many stanzas to the song, but the most important is:

“…I am a carpenter by the name Joseph…my wife is Maria…and of the Divine Word she is going to be a mother.”

Once the door opens, the innkeepers say:

“Come in holy pilgrims, pilgrims, and receive this little corner. For although poor the abode, poor the abode, I give it to you with my heart.”

4. Essential Vocabulary for Las Posadas

Some Mint Candies against a White Background

Let’s review some of the vocabulary words from this article!

  • Caramelo – “Candy” [noun, masculine]
  • Navidad  – “Christmas” [proper noun, feminine]
  • Cantar – “Sing” [verb]
  • Piñata – “Piñata” [noun, feminine]
  • Posada – “Lodging” [noun, feminine]
  • Nueve noches – “Nine nights”
  • Villancico – “Christmas carol” [noun, masculine]
  • Procesión – “Procession” [noun, feminine]
  • Obra – “Play” [noun, feminine]
  • Tradición – “Tradition” [noun, feminine]

Remember that you can hear the pronunciation of each word on our Las Posadas vocabulary list.

Final Thoughts

Las Posadas is a fun traditional holiday that characterizes both the religious nature of many Mexicans and the pagan traditions of times past. Infuse these characteristics with the joys of Christmas, family, and Mexican food, and you have a festive season not to be missed!

If you enjoyed this article and would like to learn more about Mexican culture or the Spanish language, has several blog posts we think you’ll like:

Have you been loving our blog? Then you’ll definitely enjoy going through our vast library of Spanish lessons. All you have to do is create your free lifetime account to get started! This will give you access to fun and accessible lessons on a variety of topics, taught by native Spanish speakers. What are you waiting for?

Good luck with your Spanish, and Happy Las Posadas!

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Getting in the Spirit of Things: Day of the Dead in Mexico

The way you think about and react to death has a lot to do with how you were raised. Your cultural background, religious beliefs, life experiences, and many other factors can all play a role in your perception of death. 

The Día de Muertos (“Day of the Dead”) in Mexico is a festival steeped in the beliefs of many cultures, and it focuses on the joyous occasion of the living and dead reuniting. In this article, you’ll learn all about the Day of the Dead, from its history to how it’s celebrated today. 

Let’s get started!

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1. What is the Day of the Dead?

Skull Decorations for Day of the Dead

The Day of the Dead festival is an annual three-day celebration in Mexico, beginning on October 31 and ending on November 2. Each of these three days has its own meaning and traditions, though the overarching theme is that of reuniting with loved ones who have passed. 

Day of the Dead History

Day of the Dead originated from the beliefs and traditions of the Aztecs and other nearby cultural groups of the time. The Aztecs believed that death was a natural part of one’s existence and should not be viewed solely as a sad event. Rather, death was the beginning of another journey, consisting of nine levels that would lead the deceased person to The Land of the Dead (Chicunamictlán) upon completion. The Aztecs celebrated a month-long holiday each year, dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl, during which they offered necessities like food and beverages to their deceased loved ones.

Interestingly, ancient European and Spanish cultures held similar pagan celebrations. Today, the Day of the Dead festival is a colorful culmination of celebrations from the Aztecs, Europeans, and Spaniards, combining pagan traditions with a more religious mindset (influenced by the introduction of Católico [“Catholic”] beliefs in the country). 

    →Check out our Religion vocabulary list to learn the names of different religions in Spanish. 

2. Day of the Dead Traditions & Celebrations

A Day of the Dead Offering

As mentioned, each of the three days of the Day of the Dead festival has its own meaning and traditions. These are as follows:

  • October 31 – It’s thought that at midnight, the real world and the spirit world become one, allowing the dead to visit the living.
  • November 1 – This day is called Día de los Inocentes, which means Day of the Innocents. This is when children who have passed are able to visit their families for twenty-four hours. 
  • November 2 – This is what most people think of when they hear “Day of the Dead.” This is when adults who have passed may visit their family, friends, and loved ones. 

October 31 is also Halloween in some countries, and people often confuse Day of the Dead with Halloween. But they’re really two separate holidays! If you’re looking forward to this spooky holiday in your own country, check out our vocabulary list of The Scariest Must-Know Words for Halloween

Traditions for the Festival

The Day of the Dead in Mexico is a colorful and joyous occasion. 

Beginning on or around October 31, children and their families begin celebrations by making and decorating an altar (“altar”) for their deceased loved one. Common Day of the Dead decorations include orange marigolds and painted skulls. The marigolds are believed to help the deceased person’s espíritu (“spirit”) find their way to the celebration, due to their bright color and strong scent. The skulls are lovingly crafted to reflect the personality of the deceased person.

They may also prepare an ofrenda (“offering”) of the person’s favorite foods. Popular Day of the Dead foods include tamales, mole, pulque, and a traditional Mexican drink called atole. There’s also a special bread made for the festival, called pan de muerto (“bread of the dead”), which is normally a round piece of bread that’s covered in sugar. On Day of the Innocents, the families of deceased children offer gifts of candies, chocolate, honey, and even toys, on the child’s altar and tumba (“grave”).

Many Mexicans travel to their hometowns for the festival, which allows them to reconnect with their living family and join them in reuniting with their deceased. Family members may partake in many of the same foods they’re offering to the deceased, and it’s not uncommon for friends of the family or other people of the community to gather together in celebration and feast. Further, Mexicans will visit the gravesites of their deceased and present offerings and prayers there, as well.

You’re probably familiar with Day of the Dead costumes. In light of the celebrations and festivities, many Mexicans dress up in colorful skeleton costumes, often based on La Calavera Catrina (“Dapper Skeleton”). This is a character created by José Guadalupe Posada to depict the average upper-class women of the time, many of whom had chosen to follow European traditions over those of the indigenous people. Many people also wear masks or makeup to give their face a dark and skeletal appearance. 

3. Catholic Influence on Day of the Dead

A Woman Holding Rosary Beads

Earlier, we mentioned that Day of the Dead consists of traditions and beliefs from different cultures. This is reflected in how the three festival days correspond with three Christian holidays. Do you know which ones?

  • October 31 corresponds to Noche de Todos los Santos (“All Saints’ Eve”)
  • November 1 corresponds to Día de Todos los Santos (“All Saints’ Day”)
  • November 2 corresponds to Día de Todas las Almas (“All Souls’ Day”)

You can also see Catholic influence in the prayers offered for the deceased, as well as the use of rosary beads and other religious symbols in the observations.

4. Essential Day of the Dead Vocabulary 

La Calavera Catrina

Let’s review some of the vocabulary words from this article so you can start talking about the Day of the Dead in Spanish!

  • Noviembre (“November”)
  • Católico (“Catholic”)
  • Espíritu (“Spirit”)
  • Santo (“Saint”)
  • Ofrenda (“Offering”)
  • Altar (“Altar”)
  • Tumba (“Grave”)
  • Día de Todos los Santos (“All Saints’ Day”)
  • Día de Muertos (“Day of the Dead”)
  • La Calavera Catrina (“Dapper Skeleton”)

Remember that you can find each of these words and their pronunciation on our Day of the Dead vocabulary list.

Final Thoughts 

The Day of the Dead is a fascinating culmination of different cultural perspectives, yet maintains its status as a defining Mexican tradition. We hope you learned something new about this popular holiday, and that you’re inspired to keep learning about Mexican culture and the Spanish language.

For more useful information, see the following pages on

And there’s a lot more where that came from! If you’re serious about becoming fluent in Spanish, sign up for your free lifetime account today. You’ll be speaking Spanish in minutes and fluent before you know it! 

Before you go, let us know in the comments how your culture perceives death. How do you perceive it as an individual? We look forward to hearing what you have to say.

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A Hero’s Cry – Mexican Independence Day


Every country has a story behind its independence, and many have a figure whom they credit with their victory. In fact, Mexican Independence Day is really more about the country’s national hero, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, than its actual independence! 

In this article, you’ll learn more Mexican Independence Day facts, delve into the country’s history, and explore the most popular traditions. 

Let’s get started.

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1. What is Mexican Independence Day?


Each year on September 16, Mexicans celebrate their country’s Día de la Independencia (“Independence Day”). The most important holiday in the country, Mexican Independence Day marks the date in 1810 when Mexico took its first major step toward gaining independence from the Spanish. 

Let’s dig a little deeper.

Mexican Independence Day History

a map focused on Spain

In the year 1519, Hernán Cortés and those under his command began their invasion of the Aztec Empire (which comprised parts of today’s Mexico). 300 years of Spanish rule followed, and the land’s indígena (“indigenous”) inhabitants fared poorly. The Spanish took land and possessions away from the natives, and refused them the ability to participate in governmental politics. For years, conspiracies against the Spanish had risen up left and right; each one was found out and put to a quick end. 

In 1808, inspired by the recently won freedom of the United States and empowered by the imprisonment of Ferdinand VII, the natives decided it was time for a change. In particular, a priest named Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla—today considered a national héroe (“hero”)—was adamant in his desire for a free and independent Mexico. 

Costilla, along with his second-in-command Ignacio Allende, grew a huge movement through Mexico. He’s credited with filling the oppressed Criollo (“Creole”) population with inspiration and boldness, building up an army much larger than anything the Spanish rulers thought possible. In 1810, Costilla gathered his untrained, unorganized army, and delivered a speech that has been coined The Cry of Dolores (named for the city in which the gathering took place). 

To everyone’s surprise, Costilla retreated before commencing the actual attack. 

Despite this unexpected turn—the root of which historians still debate today—he’s considered the Father of Mexican Independence. Had it not been for his role in inspiring the Creoles to rise up against their oppressors, Mexico may not have gained independence in 1821. 

2. Mexican Independence Day Traditions

a group of people celebrating

Mexican Independence Day celebrations are loud, crowded, and colorful. The streets are bright with the colors of the Mexican Flag (red, white, and green), flowers decorate buildings and homes, and at night, the skies are filled with fireworks. 

Many cities host a Mexican Independence Day parade, in addition to parties and other get-togethers. Perhaps the most popular tradition is that of listening to their local government officials as they reenact the Cry of Dolores. In Zócalo, people gather to watch as the President rings Costilla’s bell and gives the Cry of Dolores speech.

Countries that have a large number of native Mexicans may also put on Mexican Independence Day festivals. For example, Los Angeles in the U.S. is known for its elaborate festivities for the holiday, complete with traditional dances and other performances by native Mexicans. 

3. Mexican Independence Day Food

The Mexican Flag

Now for the best part: the food! 

Like many other things across the country, dishes served on this day often reflect the colors of the Mexican Flag. Imagine a dish, for example, with green cilantro, black beans, and red pico de gallo. A very popular dish for this holiday is called chiles en nogada, which consists of Poblano chiles, meats, dried fruits, and a white, nutty sauce. You can read more about traditional Mexican dishes on

Of course, you can also find more non-traditional methods, such as dying cookies or making a cake with these colors in the frosting. (Hungry, yet?)

4. Essential Vocabulary for Mexican Independence Day

a humanoid figure breaking free of its chains

Let’s review some of the vocabulary from this article! 

  • Septiembre – “September”
  • España – “Spain”
  • Personas – “People”
  • Esclavitud – “Slavery”
  • Independencia – “Independence”
  • Héroe – “Hero”
  • Día de la Independencia – “Independence Day”
  • Guerra – “War”
  • Esclavo – “Slave”
  • Criollo – “Creole”
  • Indígena – “Indigenous”

Remember to visit our Mexican Independence Day vocabulary list to hear the pronunciation of each word. 

Final Thoughts

300 years is a long time for a people to be oppressed, but the determination of a passionate leader stirred courage in their hearts. 

Does your country have a similar independence story? And which of these Mexican Independence Day events seems most fun to you? Let us know in the comments! 

For more information on Mexican culture and the Spanish language, explore! If you’re not sure where to start, we recommend the following blog posts:

We hope to see you around. 😉

Happy Mexican Independence Day from the SpanishPod101 team!

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Premium PLUS: The Golden Ticket for Language-Learning


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A common question that first-time language-learners ask is “Where do I begin?” The answer? Guidance.

For native English-speakers who want to learn Asian languages, for example, timelines provided by the U.S. Foreign Service Institute can appear discouraging. However, defeating these odds is not unheard of. If you want to beat the odds yourself, one of the best learning options is a subscription to Premium PLUS from Innovative Language.

As an active Premium PLUS member of and myself, I have an enjoyable experience learning at an accelerated pace with at least thirty minutes of study daily. The following Premium PLUS features contribute to my success:

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As someone who decided to make Japanese her second language one year ago, I am extremely grateful for Premium PLUS.

Allow me to emphasize on how these Premium PLUS features strengthen my language studies.

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Woman learning a language with Premium PLUS on a tablet

As a Premium PLUS member, I have full access to the lesson library and other Premium features. Best of all, I’m not limited to one level; I can learn to my heart’s content with upper-level courses.

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a young man practicing his pronunciation with a microphone headset

Pronunciation is an essential ingredient in language-learning. Proper pronunciation prompts clear understanding during conversations with native speakers.

Prior to learning full Korean sentences, my online Korean language tutor assigned the “Hana Hana Hangul” pathway to me. It demonstrated the writing and pronunciation of Hangul, the Korean alphabet. Throughout this pathway, I submitted recordings of my Hangul character pronunciations to my language teacher for review.

I was given a similar task on with the “Ultimate Japanese Pronunciation Guide” pathway. My Japanese language teacher tested my pronunciation of the Japanese characters kana. My completion of the two pathways boosted my confidence in speaking.

Speaking is one of the more challenging components of learning a language. The voice recording tool in particular was a great way for me to improve my speaking skills. Further, because the lesson dialogues are spoken by native speakers, I’m able to practice speaking naturally.

This feature is also available for vocabulary words and sample sentences. Being able to hear these recordings improves my pronunciation skills for languages like Japanese, where intonation can change the meaning of a word entirely. The voice recorder examines my speed and tone. I also follow up by sending a recording to my online language tutor for feedback.

A great way to boost one’s speaking confidence is to shadow native speakers. During the vocabulary reviews, it’s helpful for me to hear the breakdown of each word; doing so makes a word that was originally difficult to even read a breeze to say!

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어디에 살고 있습니까?

eodieseo salgo isseumnikka

“Where do you live?”

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도쿄에 살고 있습니다.

Tokyo-e salgo isseumnida.

“I live in Tokyo.”

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Imagine having a conversation with a native speaker and hesitating because you lack a solid vocabulary base.

Premium PLUS offers various features to expand learners’ vocabulary, including Free Gifts of the Month. SpanishPod101’s free gifts for April 2020 included an e-book with “400 Everyday Phrases for Beginners,” and the content is updated every month. When I download free resources like this, I find opportunities to use them with co-teachers, friends, or my language tutors.

An effective way to learn vocabulary is with SRS flashcards. SRS is a system designed for learning a new word and reviewing it in varying time intervals.

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With the SRS flashcards, you can change the settings to your liking. The settings range from different card types to number of new cards per deck. Personally, I give myself vocabulary tests by changing the settings.

After studying a number of flashcards, I change the card types to listening comprehension and/or production. Then I test myself by writing the translation of the word or the spoken word or phrase.

The change in settings allow me to remember vocabulary and learn how to identify the words. This is especially helpful with Japanese kanji!

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Homework assignments are advantageous to my language studies. There are homework assignments auto-generated weekly. They range from multiple-choice quizzes to writing assignments.

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Furthermore, I can track my progress with language portfolios every trimester. It’s like a midterm exam that tests my listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills.

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My language teachers cater to my goals with personalized and achievable learning programs. The tangible support of my online language teachers makes it evident that we share common goals.

Once I share a short-term or long-term goal with my teacher, we establish a plan or pathway that will ultimately result in success. I coordinate with my teachers regularly to ensure the personalized learning programs are prosperous. For example, during my JLPT studies, my Japanese language tutor assigned me practice tests.

Your language tutor is available for outside help as well. When I bought drama CDs in Japan, I had difficulty transliterating the dialogue. My Japanese teacher forwarded me the script to read along as I listened.

Additionally, I often practice Korean and Japanese with music. I memorize one line of the lyrics daily. Every time, I learn a new grammar point and new vocabulary. I add the vocabulary to my SRS flashcards, locate the grammar in the Grammar Bank, and study the associated lessons online.

I send my teachers the name of the songs, making them aware of my new goal. One time, my song for Korean was “If You Do” by GOT7. My Korean teacher revealed that she was a huge fan of GOT7 like me! For Japanese, it was “CHA-LA HEAD-CHA-LA,” also known as the Dragonball Z theme song. My Japanese teacher excitedly told me that she sang the song a lot as a kid!

A remarkable thing happened to me in South Korea. I was stressed about opening a bank account with limited Korean. I sought help from my Korean teacher. She forwarded me a script of a bank conversation.

After two days, I visited the local bank. It all started with my opening sentence:

은행 계좌를 만들고 싶어요

eunhaeng gyejwaleul mandeulgo sip-eoyo.

I want to open a bank account.

Everything went smoothly, and I exited the bank with a new account!

The MyTeacher Messenger allows me to share visuals with my teachers for regular interaction, including videos to critique my pronunciation mechanisms. I improve my listening and speaking skills by exchanging audio with my teachers. In addition to my written homework assignments, I exchange messages with my language teachers in my target language. This connection with my teachers enables me to experience the culture as well as the language.

Why You Should Subscribe to Premium PLUS

It’s impossible for me to imagine my continuous progress with Japanese and Korean without Premium PLUS. Everything—from the SRS flashcards to my language teachers—makes learning languages enjoyable and clear-cut.

You’re assured to undergo the same experience with Premium PLUS. You’ll gain access to the aforementioned features as well as all of the Premium features.

Complete lessons and assignments to advance in your target language. Increase your vocabulary with the “2000 Core Word List” for that language and SRS flashcards. Learn on-the-go with the Innovative Language app and/or Podcasts app for iOS users.

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Día de Santiago: Celebrating Saint James in Spain

It’s amazing how a person can permeate a country’s culture at one point in time, and have their influence carried over through the years.

While Spain certainly has a number of important historical figures, St. James is arguably one of the most popular. So much so that he has his own feast day each year, which we’ll talk about in this article.

Let’s get started.

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1. What is Día de Santiago?

Santiago de Compostela

On Día de Santiago, or St. James Day, Spain celebrates its patron saint.

Saint James is credited with bringing Christianity to the country around the time of the Moorish occupation. However, upon returning to Israel, he was killed and his remains were sent back to Spain, near Galicia. From there, St. James’s remains were taken inland and buried in what the Spanish now call the Santiago de Compostela. The saint’s burial place received this name because it was rediscovered in 813 by a hermit who followed a star which led him to it. Today, people go to honor Saint James in Santiago de Compostela on his feast day.

Some say that, around the time of the Christian Reconquest, St. James also appeared alongside the Christian army to fight with them against the Moors.

2. When is the Feast of St. James in Spain?

Calendar Pages

Each year, Spain celebrates Saint James Day on July 25.

3. St. James Day Traditions & Celebrations

Fireworks, or Apostle’s Fires

Día de Santiago is a major occasion in certain parts of Spain, particularly Galicia and other autonomous regions. Thus, you can expect to see festivities begin up to two weeks prior to the actual holiday!

The real celebrations take place the evening before, the most notable of which is the Fuegos del Apóstol (“Apostle’s Fire”) at midnight. This is a special fireworks show that takes place near the St. James Cathedral. Spain can see the building in full light in the dead of night!

On Día de Santiago, many devoted Christians and admirers of the patron saint walk the St. James hiking trail in Spain. This trail is called the Camino de Santiago (“Way of St. James”), and this is considered a lugar de peregrinación (“place of pilgrimage”), leading to Santiago de Compostela. Over time, it’s become one of the most important and popular pilgrimages in Europe. More than 100,000 people from many countries show up to walk the St. James Way, Spain’s hotspot for tourists this time of year.

Another incredible sight to see on St. James Day is the botafumeiro. This is a large dispenser of incienso (“incense”) that’s swung using ropes under the expert control of tiraboleiros. Because this event is quite expensive to get underway and requires a skilled workforce, viewings and locations for it are limited. Generally, this takes place during the Ofrenda al Santo (“Offering to the Saint”), which is a mass celebration attended by government officials and even the Royal Family!

Anytime you’re in Spain for a celebration, you can’t forget the food! For Día de Santiago, the most popular food item is the Saint James cake. This is a cake from Galicia that contains almonds, is dusted with powdered sugar, and has a St. James cross on top.

4. Why Scallop Shells?

If you visit Spain for St. James Day, you may be confused to see veneras (“scallop shells”) on display.

Well, according to, there are three reasons for this:

1. The scallop shell represents the many paths that can lead to Santiago (as the grooves meet at the focal point).

2. Scallop shells were used by pilgrims as eating and drinking utensils.

3. Some say that Saint James rescued someone covered in scallop shells from the sea.

5. Must-Know St. James Day Vocabulary

A Scallop Shell

Here’s a quick list of some of the vocabulary words and phrases from this article! Practice these so you can talk about the Day of Saint James in Spanish!
  • Santiago de Compostela — “Santiago de Compostela”
  • Camino de Santiago — “Way of St. James”
  • Fuegos del Apóstol — “Apostle’s Fires”
  • Ofrenda al Santo — “Offering to the Saint”
  • Incensario — “Thurible”
  • Incienso — “Incense”
  • Lugar de peregrinación — “Place of pilgrimage”
  • Peregrino — “Pilgrim”
  • Venera — “Scallop shell”
  • Catedral — “Cathedral”
  • Año santo — “Holy year”
  • Botafumeiro — “Botafumeiro”

You can hear the correct Spanish pronunciation for each item on our free Saint James vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

As you can see reflected in his feast day, St. James is a major figure in Spain’s history and culture!

Who are the most important religious or historical figures in your country? Do you have holidays or feast days to honor them? Let us know in the comments!

To continue learning about Spanish culture and the language, be sure to read these free articles on

Stay safe out there, and happy learning! <3

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Verbena de San Juan: Celebrating St. John’s Eve in Spain

What are your favorite things about summer? For me, I think it’s the food and the sunshine! I could do without all the bugs, though…

In Spain, two of the highlights of summer are the Midsummer festival and the St. John’s Eve holiday. Spain is alight during this time, celebrating the longest day (Midsummer) and shortest night (St. John’s Eve) of the year.

In this article, you’ll learn about traditions for St. John’s Eve and Midsummer in Spanish culture. There’s so much going on that it would be difficult to cover everything, but we’ll do our best. 😉

Let’s get started!

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1. An Overview of St. John’s Eve & Spanish Midsummer

St. John’s Eve is a popular holiday in the Spanish-speaking world, particularly near the Mediterranean coast and in the North. It marks la noche más corta (the shortest night) of the year. This holiday has pagan Celtic origins, though it has been Christianized over time to commemorate the birth of John the Baptist. But don’t be fooled—the Spanish have kept St. John’s Eve rooted in its “pagan” origins, in several ways. You could say that the holiday is a blend of old beliefs and traditions with newer, modern ones.

For example, this holiday is strongly associated with “St. John’s Eve voodoo,” which refers to traditions and celebrations that focus on magic or other supernatural elements. We’ll go more into detail on this soon!

A couple of days prior to St. John’s Eve, the Spanish also celebrate the Midsummer Festival. Spain is alive with festivities on this day, which celebrates the longest day of the year and takes full advantage of great summertime weather.

2. When is St. John’s Eve?

A Full Moon Shining Over Hills at Night

Each year, St. John’s Eve is celebrated on June 23, a couple of days after Midsummer.

3. Traditions for St. John’s Eve in Spain

A Bonfire

The most popular traditions and celebrations differ from region to region.

Near the coast, people get together on a playa (beach) and have a massive fiesta (party). This always involves hogueras (bonfires), which anyone can set up and light—as you can imagine, the beaches are filled with these fires! Many activities are associated with these bonfires, such as throwing a list of one’s wishes into it, jumping over the flames, and walking on hot coals. Some people like to set off petardos (firecrackers) in celebration, too.

Those who live more inland, far away from the beaches, have their own set of traditions. In Lanjarón, people partake in what’s called the Fiesta del Agua y del Jamón: people splash each other with water, and there are ham tastings. In Asturias and Madrid, people don’t let their distance from the coast keep them from lighting bonfires!

In Soria, there’s a three-day celebration during which people play folk music, put on traditional dress, and watch a parade. The celebrations here are considered by many to be the most spectacular.

On Saint John’s Eve, Spain is sure to be filled not only with the blaze of bonfires and lots of music, but also with the delicious aromas of food cooking. This evening is the perfect occasion for Spaniards to enjoy a cena (dinner) of barbecue and smoked meats, and to drink alcoholic beverages and other thirst-quenching refreshments.

These festivities can go on long into the night.

4. St. John’s Eve Voodoo

As mentioned earlier, St. John’s Eve is rooted in paganism. Even today, there are many popular beliefs about this night with specific traditions associated with them.

For example, some people believe that it’s good luck to enter the sea naked and backward while looking at the moon. Another belief is that if a single man or woman looks outside of their window around midnight, just as June 24 is beginning, they’ll see the love of their life passing by. Another is that if someone wakes up early on Midsummer Day, they won’t be sleepy for the rest of the year.

In Galicia, they drink something called queimada. This is a “magic” potion made with brandy, fruit, and sugar. A spell is cast on it while it’s being made, and it’s lit on fire before being served. Queimada is thought to get rid of evil spirits and other supernatural forces.

5. Must-Know Vocabulary for St. John’s Eve

A Beach with a Palm Tree

Ready to review some of the vocabulary words from this article? Here’s a quick list!

  • Cena — “Dinner” [n. fem]
  • Beber — “Drink” [v.]
  • Playa — “Beach” [n. fem]
  • Verbena de San Juan — “St. John’s Eve” [n. fem]
  • Noche — “Night” [n. fem]
  • Fiesta — “Party” [n. fem]
  • Multitud — “Crowd” [n. fem]
  • Petardo — “Firecracker” [n.]
  • Coca — “Coca” [n. fem]
  • Hoguera — “Bonfire” [n. fem]
  • La noche más corta — “Shortest night”

If you want to hear the pronunciation of each word and phrase, visit’s St. John’s Eve vocabulary list with audio.

Final Thoughts

In Spain, Midsummer and St. John’s Eve are certainly festive occasions that you won’t want to miss out on! If you enjoy large gatherings, time at the beach, and amazing food, we do encourage you to plan ahead for a trip to Spain to see these awesome celebrations.

Do you celebrate Midsummer or St. John’s Eve in your country? If so, what do celebrations look like there? We look forward to hearing from you in the comments!

If you want to learn more about the culture of Spanish-speaking countries and the Spanish language, has several free resources for you, straight from our blog:

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It’s our goal to make your learning experience as painless and exciting as possible, so we do hope to see you around! 😉

Stay safe out there, and happy learning.

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Guide to Understanding Body Gestures in Spanish


Every culture has its own body gestures and language, but sometimes we don’t even realize we do them until someone points it out.

People say you’re not completely fluent in a language until you master idioms, sayings, and gestures, even if they’re not necessary to speak well. We agree that knowing body gestures to improve your Spanish is essential… But there’s a problem: body gestures in Spanish lessons are so hard to come by!

When it comes to some gestures, there’s nothing to worry about, since they’re understood worldwide, such as waving to say hello or goodbye. But then there are others that might leave you a little bit confused. Do you feel like you don’t understand body language in Spanish, or gestures in European countries in general? You’re in the right place, then, because this is where we’re going to help you understand gestures in Spain.

Here’s an example:

What would you think it meant if someone were to hold their palm up as if they were doing karate, and then move it repeatedly toward their stomach while they’re laughing? There’s no need to be scared. They’re not going to cut you in half or anything like that. It just means they thought something was really funny! Would you have guessed that? Maybe, or maybe not.

There are a few more Spanish body language and gestures like this, and some are easier to understand than others. Some of these will generally be accompanied by words, but some won’t. If this sounds a bit confusing, don’t worry. Lucky for you, we’re here to make that process easier. We’ve created this guide so that you can understand these gestures; soon enough, you’ll notice you’re doing them yourself without even thinking about it! Start with a bonus, and download your FREE cheat sheet – How to Improve Your Spanish Skills! (Logged-In Member Only)

Table of Contents

  1. Three Gestures for Greeting
  2. Seven Negative Gestures
  3. Three Positive Gestures
  4. Six Neutral Gestures
  5. How Can Help You Learn Spanish

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1. Three Gestures for Greeting

Nonverbal communication in Spanish culture starts with greetings! Here are some of the most common Spain gestures and greetings.

1- Hola and Adiós

Girl Saying Hello

Meaning: “Hello” and “Goodbye”

How to do: This type of greeting is pretty common. You just need to put one of your hands up, not completely open, and shake from left to right and back at least a couple of times.

When or where to use: You can use this gesture to say hello to someone you see, or goodbye when they’re leaving. If you’re really happy to see them, you can do this movement more energetically and repeatedly.

Take a look at our previous article on How to Say “Hello” in Spanish!

2- Dos besos

Woman and Man Kissing Each Other on the Cheeks

Meaning: “Two kisses on the cheeks”

How to do: Kiss a person twice, once on each cheek. But keep in mind that you won’t actually be kissing them, but only pretending to. You must always start by leaning to your left side, which is their right cheek. Notice that in other countries, such as France, they start on the other side.

When or where to use: This greeting is typically used between a woman and a man, or a woman and another woman—or between kids. If you’re two men, but you’re from the same family, you can also give him dos besos.

3- Dar la mano


Meaning: “Handshake”

How to do: Shaking hands in Spain is easy: it’s just a normal handshake. We’re sure you’ve seen this one before, but just in case, all you need to do is hold and shake someone’s hand while facing them.

When or where to use: Shake hands if the greeting is for professional reasons or between two men. It can also mean you’ve just made an agreement.

2. Seven Negative Gestures

Spanish hand gestures

As in any country, there are negative body gestures in Spain that you should know and be aware of. These include offensive hand gestures in Spain and Spanish swear gestures! Learn the most common ones here.

1- Así, así, or Regular

Meaning: “So, so”

How to do: Hold your hand open with your palm facing down in front of you, and softly shake it left to right two or three times.

When or where to use: Use this gesture when someone asks you how you’re doing and you’re not doing that great.

2- Te voy a dar

Meaning: “I’m going to get you.”

How to do: Hold your palm up diagonally near your face as if you were going to do some karate, and move your wrist from left to right several times.

When or where to use: If you ask any Spaniard about this gesture, there’s a clear image that they would immediately think of, which is the image of an angry mother coming after you when you’ve been naughty.

3- Dedo medio

Middle Finger Sign

Meaning: “Middle finger”

How to do: You know this one! It’s one of the most offensive finger gestures in Spain. Put your middle finger up, facing whoever you want to show it to.

When or where to use: You can use this gesture in different situations, such as when you’re driving and a crazy driver does something dangerous near you. Basically, use it when you’re mad at someone.

4- Caradura

Meaning: “Shameless”

How to do: Open your palm and tap your cheek. The literal meaning of caradura is, in fact, “hard face,” so when you’re doing this, you’re showing how hard that person’s face is.

When or where to use: We’ll give you a very common example. Do any of your friends always manage to avoid paying when you all go out, while everyone else is paying for their part? Surely, we all have one of those. Well, that’s a clear example of a caradura.

5- Estoy harto or Estoy hasta aquí

Meaning: “I’m fed up.”

How to do: Do you know that typical salute you see in movies that soldiers do when they greet a superior? You know, when they move their hand up to their forehead. Well, this gesture obviously has a very different meaning, and it’s not exactly the same, but it’s actually done in a similar way.

You need to hold your hand in the same way, but the position will be horizontal instead of vertical. Estoy hasta aquí literally means “I’m until here.” Because you’re touching your head, it refers to the fact that you’re fed up from toes to head.

When or where to use: The name says it all: you’ll use this gesture when you’re fed up.

6- Está loco/loca

Meaning: “He/she is crazy”

How to do: With your index finger, tap your head on one side a few times, frowning a little.

When or where to use: Once again, it’s all in the name. When you want to point out to someone that they (or someone else) is crazy, you can use this gesture.

7- Dinero

Handing Someone Money

Meaning: “Money”

How to do: This one is quite international. Rub your thumb against your index finger and middle finger.

When or where to use: Use this gesture when talking about money. You can use it to mean that you need money, or that something you’ve seen is very expensive.

3. Three Positive Gestures

1- Partirse de risa

Meaning: “Laugh really hard”

How to do: As we mentioned before, what you need to do is hold your palm up as if you were going to do some karate movement, and then move it at least a couple of times directly to your stomach. Because it refers to something being funny, you’ll normally laugh while you do it.

When or where to use: This gesture can be used after someone tells a joke, or after you or someone else said something funny or silly. You can use it if you actually think what they said was funny, but you can also use it sarcastically, accompanied by a sarcastic “Ha, ha.”

If you want to laugh while you practice your Spanish listening skills, take a look at this list of Spanish comedians.

2- ¡Madre mía!

Meaning: “Oh my God!”

How to do: Hold one of your hands limp, or both hands for emphasis, and waggle it up and down for a few seconds.

When or where to use: The most common use is when you’re about to tell someone some new gossip or something very exciting, as well as after someone says something like this to you.

3- Tirón de orejas

Meaning: “Ear pull”

How to do: With your index finger and thumb, pull a kid’s ear lobule as many times as years he or she is turning that day, while counting them. The last pull is always a bit harder than the others.

When or where to use: As you might have guessed from the previous explanation, you’ll use this gesture when it’s a kid’s birthday.

If you’re feeling confident in Spanish, you might enjoy reading this article on why we pull ears on people’s birthday.

4. Six Neutral Gestures

1- Comer

Meaning: “To eat”

How to do: Hopefully this one will be easy to understand. Do you know that typical Italian hand gesture? Yes, you know, the one you do when you pretend to speak Italian. Well, it’s the same hand gesture, but you direct it to your mouth. And no, you don’t need to do your “Italian face” either.

When or where to use: We use this gesture when we want to ask someone if they would like to eat.

To learn some more about food in Spanish, check out our Top 10 Foods That Will Make You Live Longer and our Top 10 Foods That Will Kill You Faster articles.

2- Mucha gente

Meaning: “Crowded room”

How to do: Hold your palm up, keeping your fingers straight and facing up, and then open and close them a few times.

When or where to use: You can use this gesture, for example, when someone asks you how something you did went, such as a trip or a night out, and you want to describe that there were a lot of people.

3- Pedir la cuenta

Meaning: “Asking for the bill”

How to do: We find this gesture pretty interesting. You have to extend one of your hands with your palm facing up, and then extend your other hand, usually the one you use for writing, and pretend to scribble something on your other hand.

When or where to use: This is the gesture you use to ask for the bill in a restaurant without having to use any words, even though it could also be used while you say: La cuenta, ¿por favor? which means “The bill, please?”

Check out some tips for eating at restaurants in Spain.

4- ¿Lo pillas?

Meaning: “Do you get it?”

How to do: Hold your index finger and thumb up while the rest of your fingers are closed, and pretend to hold an object with them while you twist your wrist towards the other person. Your fingers will be a bit more open than in the image.

When or where to use: We normally use this gesture after telling a joke or a pun.

5- Estar muy delgado or Estar como un fideo

Index Finger Pointing Up

Meaning: “To be skinny”

How to do: There are a couple of very similar options, and both of them include holding your fist up and extending one finger out. One of these versions is to extend your pinky finger, and the other one is to show your index finger. Both mean the same thing, so don’t worry.

When or where to use: You can use this gesture when you’re talking to someone about somebody else who you think is (or became) very skinny, or when you see someone and point out to them that they lost weight, or are thin in general. It can be used in a negative or positive way.

Here are some more words that will help you describe the way someone looks.

6- Ojo or Mira

Meaning: “Watch out” or “Look”

How to do: You need to put your index finger on your cheekbone under your eye, and pull it once or twice.

When or where to use: You can use this gesture when you want to tell your friend to look at something or someone without using words. You can also use it to tell them to be careful.

5. How Can Help You Learn Spanish

We know this might seem complicated, especially when you’re starting to learn a language, but there’s nothing to worry about. As we mentioned before, these gestures aren’t necessary to speak Spanish, or to understand it, but they’re helpful and make communication more natural. We’re sure that by now you understand the importance of body language in Spain!

Were you already familiar with any of these Spanish gestures? Did you learn new ones? Let us know in the comments!

Even if you’re a beginner, you can start practicing and getting familiar with them, but no one is going to judge you if you don’t use them, or if you miss a nonverbal cue in Spanish! If used wrong, however, you might confuse them, so be careful!

But we’re sure you won’t confuse “laughing really hard” with “I’m fed up,” or anything like that, and we’re also sure you won’t use the middle finger without meaning to, especially after reading this guide.

So now you’ve practiced something that’s related to your oral skills, even though they’re actually silent. But what about your reading skills? Check out our Top Ways to Practice Your Spanish Reading Skills. Of course, we can’t forget your listening skills either!

Are you interested in moving to Spain and finding a job there? In that case, we have the perfect article for you.

For some more interesting content, here’s a list of the Top 10 Free Spanish Lessons. Start with a bonus, and download your FREE cheat sheet – How to Improve Your Spanish Skills! (Logged-In Member Only)

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Celebrating Grandparents Day in Mexico

Grandprarents Day in Mexico

National Grandparents Day in Mexico, thought to have been derived from the holiday of the same name in the United States, is a day set aside to honor grandparents. In a society where it’s common for Mexican grandparents to live in the same house as their family, it’s no wonder that this holiday would be adapted.

In this article, you’ll learn all about Mexican Grandparents Day. This, in turn, will lend you greater cultural understanding—a vital step in mastering any language. At, we hope to make this learning journey both fun and informative!

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1. What is Grandparents Day in Mexico?

Each year, Mexicans set aside a special day just to honor their grandparents. This tradition is actually based on Grandparents Day in the United States, which was created by a woman named Marian McQuade.

This holiday extends beyond grandparents, and people in both the U.S. and Mexico treat Grandparents Day as a time to help the general elderly population—especially those in nursing homes or hospitals—as much as possible.

2. When is Grandparents Day in Mexico?

Grandparents Day is on August 28

Mexicans celebrate Grandparents Day each year on August 28.

3. Grandparents Day Celebrations

Granddaughter Giving Grandparent Present

Celebrations and traditions for Grandparents Day vary, and this holiday hasn’t received as much popularity in Mexico as in the U.S.

Note that in Mexico, it’s common for grandparents to live either in the same household as their children and grandchildren, or very nearby. This means that grandparents really are an active part of their children’s and grandchildren’s lives, and are not to be ignored.

Those whose grandparents are still around may choose to spend time with them, give them Grandparents Day gifts, or even send a heartfelt letter to thank them for the role they’ve played in that person’s life. Grandparents are, after all, some of the sweetest and most understanding people a person will have around. Oftentimes, the family will prepare a favorite meal, as well.

Smaller children love to make crafts for their grandparents, and due to the closeness of grandparents to the rest of their family, visits are always welcome and attainable!

Another way to celebrate Grandparents Day is to donate to charity or otherwise partake in events dedicated to honoring and respecting Mexico’s elderly population.

4. International Day of Older Persons

A similar celebration is called International Day of Older Persons, which takes place on October 1 of each year. While Grandparents Day tends to focus on one’s own grandparents, this holiday has a much broader focus on the elderly in general.

Specifically, International Day of Older Persons seeks to shed light on common problems shared by the older population worldwide. Another one of its goals is to honor and be grateful for all that the elderly population has accomplished and offered to the world, and to each country.

5. Useful Vocabulary for Grandparents Day in Mexico

Black-Framed Eyeglasses

Here’s some vocabulary you should know for Grandparents Day in Mexico!

  • Abuela — “Grandmother”
  • Abuelo — “Grandfather”
  • Regalo — “Present”
  • Nieta — “Granddaughter”
  • Familia — “Family
  • Nieto — “Grandson”
  • Arruga — “Wrinkle”
  • Viejo — “Old”
  • 28 de agosto — “August 28”
  • Anteojos — “Eyeglasses”

To hear each vocabulary word pronounced, check out our Mexican Grandparents Day vocabulary list! You’ll also find a relevant image beside each word, to maximize your memorization!


We hope you enjoyed learning about the Grandparents Day Mexico celebrates each year! Does your country have a Grandparents Day celebration, or a similar holiday? Tell us about it in the comments! We look forward to hearing from you. 🙂

To continue learning about Spanish and Mexican culture and the language, explore We offer an array of fun and practical learning tools for every type of learner:

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Whatever your reason for learning Spanish, know that your hard work and determination will pay off. You’ll be speaking, writing, and reading Spanish like a native before you know it, and will be here with you on each step of your journey to language mastery!

Happy Grandparents Day!

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Feliz Dia de la Madre: Celebrate Mother’s Day in Spain!

¡Feliz Dia de la Madre!

Mother’s Day, or Dia de la Madre, is a deeply significant holiday in Spain. Take, for instance, the following information:

A study was done in 2012 about the role of European mothers. The psychologist responsible for the Spanish case said that “the Spanish mother has become the administrator of the household and is the fundamental pillar of the family structure.”

A surprising fact was learning that they dedicate only thirty-nine minutes to themselves, versus fifty minutes for the rest of European mothers. The study also showed that fifty-three percent consider the hug to be the best demonstration of gratitude, even ahead of helping with the household chores.

What better day than this celebration for Spanish mothers to be able to receive from their family, and from society, the recognition they deserve. And in Mother’s Day, Spain does just this.

At, we hope to make learning about Mother’s Day both fun and insightful. From Spanish Mother’s Day gifts to Mother’s Day flowers, Spain celebrates similarly to the rest of the world, but with its own flair. Let’s learn more about the significance of the mother in Spanish society and her special day!

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1. What is Mother’s Day in Spain?

It’s said that this festival’s origin is from the tribute that was made to the mother of Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon in Greek mythology, Rea. The Romans adopted it, but the Catholics were the first to call it Mother’s Day in honor of the Virgin Mary.

In seventeenth-century England, they celebrated the Sunday of Mothers. Children attended mass and then gave some presents to their mothers. The English colonists tried to keep the celebration alive in the United States, but it was eventually abandoned.

It was in 1914 when it was established as an official celebration following a campaign organized by Anna Marie Jarvis.

Around the world, Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate one’s mother and other motherly figures in their life. This is often done through gift-giving or doing nice things for them.

2. When is Mother’s Day in Spain?

Mother's Day is on a Sunday

The date of Mother’s Day varies from year to year, though it always falls on the first Sunday of May. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years.

  • 2019: May 5
  • 2020: May 3
  • 2021: May 2
  • 2022: May 1
  • 2023: May 7
  • 2024: May 5
  • 2025: May 4
  • 2026: May 3
  • 2027: May 2
  • 2028: May 7

3. Reading Practice: How is Dia de la Madre Celebrated?

Mother Receiving Affection from Children

How is Mother’s Day celebrated in Spain? Read the Spanish text below to find out, and find the English translation directly below it.

Lo cierto es que las costumbres de este día en España no son muy diferentes a las del resto del mundo. Las flores, sobre todo claveles o rosas, los bombones y las manualidades que los niños preparan en clase, las encontramos en cualquier país. Grandes comidas familiares y regalos también forman parte de la tradición. No son pocos los que creen, por este motivo, que detrás de esta fiesta hay grandes intereses comerciales.

Como en el resto de países existen ciertos regalos que es bastante típico hacerles a las madres. No es de extrañar que ante la aparente falta de originalidad hayan surgido últimamente multitud de sitios web españoles que al acercarse estas fechas proponen originales ideas para regalar.

The truth is that the customs of this day in Spain are not very different from those in the rest of the world. Flowers, especially carnations or roses, chocolates, and crafts that children prepare in class, are found in every country. Large family meals and gifts are also part of the tradition. For this reason, there are many who believe that there are great commercial interests behind this celebration.

As in other countries, there are certain gifts that are commonly given to mothers. It is no wonder that with the apparent lack of originality, numerous websites have appeared in Spain that suggest original ideas for gifts as this date approaches.

4. Additional Information: Original Date of Spanish Mother’s Day

Do you know when this day was previously celebrated in Spain?

Initially, it was celebrated on December 8, the day of the Immaculate Conception and the date that is observed worldwide by the Catholic Church. However, over time the date was changed to the first Sunday in May. This was also done in Hungary, Lithuania, Portugal, South Africa, and Romania.

5. Must-know Vocab

Gift Certificate

Here’s some vocabulary you should know for Mother’s Day in Spain!

  • Cena — “Dinner
  • Domingo — “Sunday”
  • Hijo — “Son”
  • Hija — “Daughter”
  • Rosa — “Rose”
  • Regalo — “Present”
  • Madre — “Mother”
  • Chocolate — “Chocolate”
  • Amar — “Love
  • Celebrar — “Celebrate”
  • Desayuno en la cama — “Breakfast in bed”
  • Felicitación — “Greeting card”
  • Cheque regalo — “Gift certificate”

To hear each vocabulary word pronounced, check out our Mother’s Day in Spain vocabulary list, where you’ll find each word accompanied by an audio file of its pronunciation.


What are your thoughts on Spanish Mother’s Day? Does your country have similar celebrations and traditions, or very different ones? Let us know in the comments!

To learn more about Spanish culture and the language, visit us at There’s something here for every learner, from insightful blog posts to an array of vocabulary lists, and an online community to discuss lessons with fellow Spanish learners! If you haven’t yet, you can also check out our MyTeacher program, which gives you the opportunity to learn Spanish one-on-one with your own personal teacher.

Learning a new language and becoming knowledgeable in its country’s culture is a huge feat and one that you won’t regret. Your hard work will pay off, and before you know it, you’ll be speaking Spanish like a native! will be here to support you on your way there!

Until next time, Feliz Día de la Madre (“Happy Mother’s Day” in Spanish)!

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