Spain has two public holidays this week, Tuesday 6 December and Thursday 8 December. Both days apply in all autonomous communities, as they are two national holidays that cannot be changed.
The dates are known by the entire Spanish population, especially among those who do not have to go to work. However, few people know the reason for these two holidays. One has religious origins. Whereas, the other is exclusively linked to the homeland and to all Spaniards.
6 December, Day of the Spanish Constitution
As every year, 6 December is celebrated as the Day of the Spanish Constitution, a holiday commemorating the adoption of this law, which lays down the rights and duties of all Spaniards. The Constitution was approved on 6 December 1978 and is currently still in force.
The approval occurred through the publication of Royal Decree 2964/1983, of 30 November, which established the celebration and holiday of Constitution Day, ‘to celebrate the date on which the Spanish people ratified the Constitution by referendum’.
8 December, Day of the Immaculate Conception
Immaculate Conception (Inmaculada Concepción de María) is celebrated every year on 8 December. The protagonist of this holiday is the Virgin Mary. The feast of religious origin is thus linked to Catholic tradition. On this date, the conception of the Virgin, the Immaculate Conception, is commemorated. She was born on September 8. Calculated backwards, it means that her conception took place nine months earlier, on 8 December.
It also has a war significance, as it commemorates what happened during the Eighty Years’ War in the Battle of Empel – la batalla de Empel- , between 7 and 8 December 1585. Spanish soldiers encamped on the banks of the river Meuse at Empel in The Netherlands. When one of the soldiers found an undamaged effigy of Mary, they started praying to Her with the result that it began to freeze so hard that they managed to escape the State troops over the ice. All this happened on 8 December, high festival of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Reason for the Spanish army to declare Mary the patron saint of the Spanish infantry. This ‘Milagro de Empel’ is commemorated grandly by the Spanish army every year on 8 December.