Updated: February 14, 2023Published: December 21, 2022
Imagine 25 million Spaniards united in one place and voting for their Constitution. Well, that’s kind of what happened back in history that allowed Spain to celebrate this National Holiday.
But what is Constitution Day, why is it celebrated, and why is there a super long weekend around that date? What makes it so memorable? This is what I’ll explain in this article.
After reading it, you’ll have learned about Spanish History and the Origin of Constitution Day, and when it was established as a National Holiday. And, most importantly, how are Spaniards supposed to celebrate and observe this memorable holiday.
As if all of this wasn’t enough, I’ll also give you some curious facts about the Spanish Constitution that you probably didn’t know before. So, let’s get there!
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When is Constitution Day Celebrated in Spain?
The Day of the Spanish Constitution is celebrated on December 6. It is a Spanish National Holiday that commemorates Spain’s constitution, which contains the rights and duties of all Spaniards. It was approved on this day back in 1978 and is currently in force. —although it has had many reforms throughout time.
Origin of Constitution Day in Spain
The Origin of the Day of the Constitution goes back to 1978. The Spanish people participated in the Referendum on the Draft Constitution.
The Royal Decree 2560 convened the Spanish citizens to the streets to participate in the national Referendum on September 3 of the same year. During this day, as stipulated in Article 2 of the law, Spaniards were asked the following question:
“Do you approve the draft Constitution?”
As a result, 90% of the votes favored this new Constitution. This was needed because Spain had been through long decades of dictatorship. After the dictator’s death, Spain entered a transition period that led to the 1977 general elections, held on June 15. Later, a referendum on the Spanish Constitution was born on December 6, 1978. —After many periods of negotiations and agreements between different political parties.
But how and when was Constitution Day made a National Holiday?
This day has been a public holiday throughout the national territory since 1983 when it was included in the work calendar by Felipe González, the President of the Government many decades ago. He legislated a national holiday endorsed in Royal Decree 2964 in which the Article 1 of the decree declared that every December 6 will be commemorated from that date as Constitution Day in Spain.
“With the purpose of solemnizing properly the anniversary of the date on which the Spanish people ratified by referendum the Constitution, December 6 of each year is declared “Constitution Day.”
As a tribute to the Constitution of Spain, all State Institutions carry out different public, national and territorial acts every year on December 6.
Some of the activities are the traditional raising of the Spanish flag, the famous race in Madrid, and speeches by state leaders, among other activities. But, if you want to know what the Constitution says about how this day should be honored, here it is:
Article 2: The Institutions of the State, of national or territorial scope, shall commemorate with the greatest solemnity and solemnity and with public acts the “Day of the Constitution” in the form established by their governing and management bodies.
You can see here the parades and public acts that take place every year on this day in the following video:
Article 3: The Ministry of Defense will dictate the suitable dispositions for the “Constitution Day” celebration by the Armed Forces.
This means that the Armed Forces also plays a significant role on this day since the Constitution assigned them the mission of guaranteeing the sovereignty and independence of Spain.
Article 4: The schools will celebrate commemorative acts of “Constitution Day” in the form established by the academic authorities.
This article aims to maintain the tradition by teaching and to educate the new generations in school about the importance of this historical event for the Spanish Country.
Is Spanish National Day the Same as Constitution Day?
Constitution Day on December 6 differs from the Spanish National Day on October 12. The first day commemorates the Spanish Constitution approved in 1978, while the National Day of Spain represents the encounter of the two cultures, known as “Dia de la Hispanidad.”
You can learn more about the Spanish National Day to know the many other names it receives and the origin of the National Holiday in the following article. Many people mistake it for other National days in the Spanish Calendar.
Moreover, Constitution day should not be confused with Immaculate Conception Day on December 8. This celebration of a religious character commemorates the conception of the Virgin Mary, but they are sometimes confused since both celebrations are two days apart from each other. You can learn more about the Virgin Mary, what she represents to Spain, and Catholicism in the country in the following articles:
The celebration of Constitution Day has an important political and historical background, commemorating the consolidation of the country’s democracy after the Franco dictatorship that lasted 40 years.
The first time Spain celebrated their Constitution Day was not in 1978. It was in 1983, after it was a national holiday.
Constitution Day usually means a long bridge of holiday Spaniards. These days are typically used to travel, go to some Christmas markets, enjoy the city lights with family and decorate the house with a Christmas tree. You can see how Spaniards celebrate Xmas in these posts:
The Spanish Constitution is one of the most extensive in the European Union.
In the Referendum, over 61% of people participated, of which 87.78% said yes to the Constitution. This represents 58.97% of the people who can vote!
The Constitution was checked by Camilo Jose Cela, who won a Nobel Prize in Literature!
The original copy of the Constitution is in the Congress of Deputies.
The Constitution has 169 articles, 4 additional provisions, 9 transitory provisions, a repealing provision, and a final provision.
The Constitution prohibits a constitutional reform that starts during war or while a state of alarm, exception, or siege is in force.
The First Constitutional Reform was in 1992 and consisted of adding the clause “and passive” in article 13.2.
The Second Constitutional Reform was in 2011, which consisted of replacing Article 135 in its entirety.
I hope this article has enlightened you about the origin of this celebration and has solved your doubts about other festivities that take place around those days!! We also have lots of other special Holidays taking place in the country. Find out about them here:
Jimena Bolívar is a seasoned travel writer with a unique passion for Spanish Food & Recipes. With a background in business and marketing, she brings a strategic and innovative approach to her writing, making her the perfect guide for those looking to truly experience the Authentic Spain. Jimena is also a Mother of 4, and is a huge fan of knitting her own clothes.