Easter in Spain

Posted on 15. Apr, 2015 by in Holidays, Spanish Culture, Spanish Vocabulary

¡Buenos días!

In late March-early April, we always celebrate Easter in Spain. However, the way in which people celebrate this time of the year differs from one region of the country to another. You probably remember we call these holidays Semana Santa and Pascua, both of which have religious roots.

There are of course similarities in the religious ceremonies observed, which only vary between regions in degree of intensity and fervor: if you spend Easter in Sevilla you will probably not be able to walk along the streets because of the procesiones; however, if you happen to be in Barcelona, you may just run across old ladies and traditional families carrying their ramos and a few more people than usual attending la misa de Vigilia Pascual.

In addition to the procesiones, which last all week long in most of Andalucía and Castilla, we have many other lesser known traditions in Spain which we share with you in this post. You can learn specialized vocabulary in the process!

ramos Pascua

Palmas para el domingo de Ramos (Photo from Guillaume Paumier on flickr.com)



Domingo de Ramos with palmas: this is celebrated everywhere on the Sunday before Easter. People bring palmas y ramos de olivo, palm and olive branches, to be blessed during mass, and then keep them safe until the following year.






Tronar de tambores Murcia

Tambores del Santo Santo Sepulcro de Cehegín (Murcia) (Photo from Pedro Semitiel on flickr.com)


Tronar de los tambores: in Murcia they celebrate from the last minute of Holy Tuesday to Wednesday evening by making drums resound all day (and night!) long.





Señoras con mantilla y luto de Viernes Santo

Señoras con mantilla y luto de Viernes Santo (Photo from Jose Mesa on flickr.com)

Luto de Viernes Santo: in Andalucía and Castilla, women dress in mourning during Holy Friday and Saturday; men wear trajes oscuros. There is strict protocol on the length of the mantilla that is worn during the luto, or the size of brooches that can be used to hold the mantilla in place. This protocol is mostly respected in these regions.




Catedral de Valencia

Catedral de Valencia (Photo from Jaume Meneses on flickr.com)


Ruptura de Pucheros: in Valencia, on Holy Saturday at midnight, people throw water and their old tableware off their windows, to celebrate the end of a period and the coming of the Resurrection as something new.





Mona de Pascua tradicional

Mona de Pascua tradicional (Photo from Nesimo on flickr.com)

Mona de Pascua: the mona is a sweet pie of Valencian origin, which is also enjoyed in Murcia, Catalonia, Aragón and Castilla-La Mancha. Originally, it had the shape of a ring and included one or two eggs hidden in the pastry. Nowadays, the trend is to use more chocolate, so that the mona has come closer to un huevo de Pascua.





Pascua Granada: if you haven’t had enough Pascua in April, you can still get an additional holiday in May or early June: the Pascua Granada comes 50 days after Easter and represents both the Ascención de Jesús and the ripening of fruits and blossoming of flowers.

How do you celebrate Easter in your country? Please comment below! We enjoy learning different traditions, especially if they are fun!

Spanish English Parallel Texts – Man rescued after 66 days missing at sea

Posted on 14. Apr, 2015 by in Learning, Pronunciation, Spanish Grammar, Spanish Vocabulary


Man rescued after 66 days missing at sea.
Hombre rescatado después de 66 días desaparecido en el mar.

The Telegraph. AFP. April 3rd 2015.

Use the player below to listen to this news story in Spanish:

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A US man missing at sea for more than two months was celebrating a miraculous rescue on Thursday after being picked up by a passing ship and airlifted to dry land. Louis Jordan, 37, who was reported missing on January 29, told family members he had survived by catching fish with his hands and drinking rain water, according to the Coast Guard.

He was spotted drifting on his stricken sailboat approximately 200 miles off the coast of North Carolina by the German-registered tanker and taken aboard. A US Coast Guard helicopter then rescued him to safety and took him back to a hospital in Norfolk, Virginia, a statement said.

Frank Jordan, the sailor’s father, told CNN he did not know what had caused his son’s boat to break down. US media reports said the boat had capsized and Louis Jordan was found sitting on the upturned hull when he was rescued. Frank Jordan said his son was in good spirits during a brief conversation with him following his rescue. He told CNN he had not given up hope Louis would be found alive despite his inexperience as a sailor.

“I knew he had a good seaworthy boat,” Frank Jordan said. “I felt the boat was going to keep him alive, but I had all sorts of worries because he’s not an experienced sailor”.

How his son ended up so far off course is unknown. “I called him once a few days after he left land… and he was a few miles offshore. As far as how he got off track, I don’t know,” he said. He said his son’s “strong constitution” and religious belief had kept him alive. “He told me on the phone that he was praying the whole time, so I believe that sustained him a great deal,” he said.

His mother, Norma Davis, said: “To us it’s just a miracle. We’re so thrilled that he was found alive. It’s amazing,” she said. “It’s been very difficult not knowing anything and I just feel like all of our prayers have come true. They’ve been answered.”

Un hombre estadounidense desaparecido en el mar durante más de dos meses estuvo celebrando un milagroso rescate el jueves después de ser recogido por un barco que pasaba y aerotransportado a tierra firme. Louis Jordan, de 37 años de edad, el cual fue reportado como desaparecido el 29 de enero, dijo a miembros de su familia que había sobrevivido capturando peces con las manos y bebiendo agua de lluvia, según la Guardia Costera.

Fue divisado a la deriva en su dañado velero a aproximadamente 200 millas de la costa de Carolina del Norte por el petrolero de matrícula alemana y subido a bordo. Un helicóptero de la Guardia Costera de Estados Unidos luego lo rescató y lo llevó a un hospital en Norfolk, Virginia, según un comunicado.

Frank Jordan, el padre del marinero, dijo a la CNN que no sabía lo que había causado que el barco de su hijo se averiase. Informes Estadounidenses de prensa afirmaron que el barco había volcado y Louis Jordan se encontraba sentado en el casco volcado cuando fue rescatado. Frank Jordan dijo que su hijo estaba de buen humor durante una breve conversación con él después de su rescate. Él dijo a la CNN que no había perdido la esperanza de que Louis se encontrara vivo a pesar de su falta de experiencia como marinero.

“Yo sabía que tenía un buen barco en buen estado para navegar”, dijo Frank Jordan. “Sentí que el barco iba a mantenerle vivo, pero tuve todo tipo de preocupaciones porque él no es un marinero con experiencia”.

Se desconoce cómo su hijo acabó tan alejado de su curso. “Le llamé una vez unos días después de que partiera… y estaba a pocos kilómetros de la costa. Cómo se salió tanto de su curso, no lo sé”, afirmó. Dijo que “la constitución fuerte” de su hijo y sus creencias religiosas le habían mantenido vivo. “Él me dijo por teléfono que estaba rezando todo el tiempo, así que esto creo que le sustentó mucho”, afirmó.

Su madre, Norma Davis, dijo: “Para nosotros es un milagro. Estamos tan emocionados de que fuera encontrado vivo… Es increíble”, dijo ella. “Ha sido muy difícil no saber nada y ahora siento como todas nuestras oraciones se han hecho realidad. Han sido respondidas.”

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Introducing myself: Spanish de un lado y del otro

Posted on 09. Apr, 2015 by in Basic, Spanish Vocabulary

I would like to introduce myself as I will be one of the new Spanish bloggers for Transparent Language. My name is Paula and I have been working as a freelance translator and writer since 2009. Although my university training includes English, Literary theory and Comparative literature, my passion for languages has led me to study Catalan, French, Italian, German and Russian. I will be posting writing tips in Spanish, and also on cultures and literatures of Spanish-speaking countries throughout the world and more.

One of the services I provide as a freelancer is adaptation, transcreation and localization for different Spanish-speaking markets. As you may well be aware of, Spanish is spoken by more than 400 million people in Europe, America and Africa. Being a native from Argentina and having lived for a decade in Barcelona, Spain, I have specialized in the different usages, vocabulary and pronunciation of Spanish. For business purposes, these differences have been narrowed down to two variants: European and Latin American, although one could argue a Puerto Rican and a Uruguayan may actually not be able to understand each other. At least, not necessarily more so than a Spaniard and a Chilean.

As an introductory post, I leave you with an extremely funny video on the different meanings the same words can have throughout Latin America and Spain. It’s written by Juan Andrés and Nicolás Ospina who make the duo Inténtalo Carito. It’s called Qué difícil es hablar en español, it was a YouTube hit a couple of years ago, but it hasn’t lost a bit!


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Vocabulary in the song:

  • Pana,
    • España: corduroy
    • Colombia: friend, pal
  • Porro
    • Colombia: Cumbia-rhythm music style
    • Rest of the world: a joint of marijuana
  • Chucho, chucha
    • Chile: interjection, also meaning very far away (“A la chucha”)
    • Colombia: sweat
    • Salvador y Guatemala: mongrel doggy
    • Honduras: stingy, also familiar for Jesus
    • Argentina: shivers
    • Chile: jail
    • Mexico: skilful
  • Chivo
    • Uruguay and Argentina: sweat
    • Rest of the world: goat-like animal
  • Frijol, poroto and habichuela: beans
  • Fresa
    • Most of the world: strawberry (in Argentina, frutilla)
    • Mexico: posh (in Argentina, cheto)
  • Pastel, ponqué, torta: cake
  • Torta
    • Spain: slap in the face
  • Capullo
    • Spain: idiot
    • Rest of the world: flower bud
  • Jugo
    • Spain: juice from meat, gravy
    • Rest of the world: fruit juice
  • Zumo
    • Spain: fruit juice
  • Sumo
    • Sumo pontífice: the Pope
    • Japanese martial art
  • Mamado
    • Most of the world: drunk
    • Mexico: inappropriate
    • Colombia: tired