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Puentes: Long Weekends in Spain

Puente: a figure of speech we use to talk about the days we take off between two holidays. They are similar to “bank holidays” or “public holidays”

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There’s an old joke in Spain that goes, the best “puentes” (bridges) in Spain are the Puente Nuevo in Ronda (Malaga), the one in Triana (Seville), the “puente” at Semana Santa (or Holy Week) and the “puente” for el día de la constitución (Constitution Day). These last two are not actually “bridges” but rather a figure of speak we use to talk about the days we take off between two holidays. They are similar to “bank holidays” or “public holidays,” but with subtle differences.

There are “puentes” that are the same every year, such as those mentioned above, and those that come about when a holiday falls on a Tuesday or a Thursday for example. In the first instance people normally take the Monday before off and in the second, the Friday after, making for a long weekend in both cases.

Puentes” have always been controversial. Many people think they don’t exactly promote productivity and some (especially freelancers and small businesses) normally don’t take them, which can cause inconveniences if things like supplies need to be ordered. Some time ago, using other countries as an example, passing holidays to the Monday following the actual date was taken into consideration. But for now we have had no new news about this possibility and to what extent it would be accepted publicly. We have to remember that many of our holidays have a religious component which makes changing their dates unfavorable.

There is also the fact that, on at least two occasions, two holidays fall in the same week. This is the case with December 6 and 8 (Constitution Day and the Immaculate Conception respectively) and Good Friday (which in Spain is both Thursday and Friday) (although in some regions in Spain, like Cataluña and Valencia the Thursday is not celebrated, but Easter Monday is).

And all of this is without taking regional holidays into consideration (each Autonomous Region and each city has their own) which can fall on the same day or week as a national holiday. Anything is possible with the Spanish calendar!

As you can see “puentes” (or in other words “long weekends”) in Spain are something to keep in mind when coming for a visit. And did you know that a very long “puente” is known as an “aqueduct”? Just one more piece of evidence that here in Spain, calendar planning could almost be considered a feat of engineering.

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