Que cada palo aguante su vela
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Que cada palo aguante su vela - Everyone should face up to their own responsibilities

As you already know from hearing other Spanish expressions, we Spaniards have a proverbial resignation that borders on fatalism. This common expression, “que cada palo aguante su vela”, suggests that each person must stoically bear on their own any and all cruelness that fate places upon them

The image is quite graphic and many recall Easter Week: they imagine penitents cleansing themselves of their sins and holding a candle that represents their souls.

The image however is incorrect. Let’s take a closer look at the meaning of the expression.

As you know, the Spanish word vela can refer to either a candle or a sail, like for a sailboat. The word here happens to mean sail.

So the palo mentioned means mast, which uses its own strength to hold up the sails that will propel the boat forward. The expression means that no matter which way the wind blows, we can adapt fate to the direction that we take.

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