Galician (galego) is one of Spain’s official languages, along with Catalan, Basque, Aranese, and Spanish. We know, most people abroad don’t know about it (we clearly have a marketing problem — everyone knows about Catalan and Basque!), but that doesn’t mean it’s not a language in its own right.
Refer to it as a dialect to the right person, and you might even get a free history lesson after being asked, “A dialect from what language? Spanish?” Nope: Galician and Portuguese used to be the same language, and no one thinks of Portuguese as a Spanish dialect. After Castilla conquered Galicia in the 13th century (a century after Portugal’s independence), early Galician-Portuguese fragmented and started evolving in different directions, giving birth to Galician in the north and Portuguese in the rest of the territory.
Spain is a big and diverse country, and those stereotypes apply mostly to the south. Don’t expect flamenco shows in Galicia — our traditional music has Celtic roots, so you’ll find bagpipes and a feeling of being in Ireland or Scotland. Instead of paella, we eat lots of vegetables, potatoes, pork, fish, and seafood. Bullfighting exists here, but it’s not popular.
As for that image of Spanish people being always happy and outgoing, you might find we’re a bit different. We are famously suspicious of new things and people, so we need time to decide if we like you or not. That being said, if we decide we like you, you’ll have earned a place in our heart forever.
I know, I know. All your Galician friends are constantly complaining about the grey, rainy weather on their Facebook updates. But it’s not that bad, and we hate it when people assume there’s a cloud that lives over Galicia, making it impossible for us to see the sun. We think there’s a national conspiracy, led by weathermen, to spread that idea. They always point it out when it’s sunny everywhere but here, while forgetting to mention it when the opposite happens. Even worse, because of Galicia’s location (in the northwest, that part just above Portugal), they tend to stand in front of Portugal, hiding Galicia from view with their heads!
And while we complain a lot about the weather (we are a bit weather obsessed, it’s not small talk at all), our summers can be perfect. We don’t call ourselves Galifornia for nothing.
Estrella Galicia is our local beer, and we just love it. You will learn to order una Estrella instead of una cerveza, and even to frown slightly if the barman says they only have other brands. But you won’t see how important it is for us until you witness how our eyes start shining whenever we come across a bar outside Galicia where you can order it. Sometimes we even approach people drinking Estrella, asking, “Do you like that beer?” And when they say “yes” (they will say “yes”), we smile proudly and say, “It’s from where I’m from.”
Chances are you’ll love it too (it wins international beer contests quite often), so you shouldn’t really worry about this.
Everyone has an accent. Yes, you too, my dear friend from Madrid, so please stop trying to speak like we do, because: First, you’re doing it wrong, and second, even though we’re smiling at you, we don’t find it funny and we secretly hate you. And yes, our diminutive is -iño instead of -ito, and maybe, just maybe, we use it a lot. That doesn’t mean you should end every word with it in an attempt of…no, we don’t even know what it is you’re trying to do.
If you’re in a restaurant after eating lunch or dinner, dessert, or coffee and the waiter comes with some homemade spirits “on the house,” you should drink them. It means that he liked having you there (or that you spent lots of money), so it would be rude to leave without having a shot or two. You know it’s not easy for us to decide we like you in such a short amount of time, so you should appreciate it!
Ok, there are lots of theories about this. But one of them is that table football or foosball (we call it futbolín) was invented in 1937 by Alexandre Campos, a guy from Finisterre, during his convalescence in a hospital in Cataluña. He created a way for him and other kids in the hospital to play football.
Also, futbolín is different here — players have two legs and the field is not completely flat. Don’t say it shouldn’t be like that. We don’t understand how people can play with those weird one-legged players.
We are really proud of our beaches, and the water temperature only makes them better. Walking into the water is always a challenge that provokes nervous giggling, and yes, sometimes you’ll just spend a minute there because you notice your limbs are getting numb. Oh, but that refreshing feeling when you get out of the sea and lie on the towel. What a perfect moment! That’s why we find the Mediterranean boring. And suspicious — the sea is only that warm on our beaches when someone has just peed in it.
Plus, a few years ago The Guardian placed Praia de Rodas, in the Cíes Islands, at the top of their world’s best beaches list. You can imagine how proud we are. International recognition!
Get a map: Spain is a big country! Basque Country is not in the northwest at all, it’s just west from Cataluña. But you still need to cross Cantabria and Asturias before arriving in Galicia. So, no, we are not close to Basque Country. You’ll find out if you decide to go by bus from Bilbao to Santiago de Compostela. You’ll have lots of time to think.
Oh, come on. We are also interesting! We are the Spanish Scotland (there’s even a petition on Change.org to David Cameron to consider accepting Galicia as part of the UK if Scotland becomes independent)! We eat octopus! We are mysterious! Please, pay attention to us!