Spain is so often quoted as one of the most Catholic countries in Europe. That may be true, yet this modern, open, progressive country seems to fairly easily reconcile this traditional past with its modern day culture.
Admittedly the PSOE socialist party certainly caused rifts with the Church as it tried to create distance between the State and the Church in the last decade, as well its progressive social justice policies such as legalising gay marriage.
Yet in my experience in Andalucía, people here make the Church a regular part of their social and family life, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they follow the traditional, restrictive teachings of the Church by the letter. Faith is important and the fundamental values of Christianity are important, complementing modern life, and progressive attitudes.
Yesterday I attended a service to commemorate a First Communion; a nephew and niece were celebrating their First Communion in the beautiful Church of the Holy Ghost, Espiritu Santo, in Ronda’s old town, followed by an impressive celebratory meal at the local Parador. The service was upbeat, lively (people talk and laugh a lot in Church in Andalucía – there is not the reverent silence found in UK Anglican churches).
First Communions in Spain are typically in April and May; girls dress in elaborate dresses, much like a bride-to.be; whilst the boys are in Navy sailor suits.
This is significant rite of passage in Spanish life and is a major social occasion.