For members


Seven things you should never say to a Catalan person

Catalans are usually friendly people but also very proud of their culture and language, so saying the wrong thing can make things awkward. Journalist Julia Webster Ayuso, who is a Catalan herself, lists seven faux pas to avoid.

Seven things you should never say to a Catalan person
Photo: Yogendra Singh on Unsplash

1. Call the capital of Catalonia “Barça”

Our capital is often associated with football, and while for some that’s a real point of pride, not all Catalans are football fans. “Barça” is the nickname given to FC Barcelona, and you will hear people chanting it during a football match. The team is not, however, the same as the city, so don’t say “I love spending time in Barça”, it won’t make any sense to us. We have our own affectionate nickname for Barcelona: Barna.

2. Ask ‘isn’t Catalan a dialect?’

Catalan is one of Spain’s five official languages, along with Castilian Spanish, Galician, Basque and Aranese. Catalan is considerably different to Spanish as it’s from the Gallo and Occitano-Romance branch of languages whereas Castilian is an Iberian Romance language. So, even though there is vocabulary that’s similar in Spanish and Catalan, in some ways Catalan is closer to French or Italian because it wasn’t heavily influenced by Arabic like Spanish was. Catalan is not merely spoken at home: it’s the main language used in government, institutions and taught in schools.

3. Call Catalans “Catalonians”

The citizens of Catalonia speak a language called Catalan and are known as Catalans (Catalanes in Spanish, Catalans in French, Catalani in Italian, etc). English speakers have often used the term “Catalonians” instead, but this won’t go down well – it’s just wrong.

3. Mix up the senyera and the estelada

The Catalan national flag is made up of four red stripes on a yellow background and is known as la senyera. Though it looks similar to the estelada, there’s one very visible difference: the star on a blue triangle, which makes it a symbol of the pro-independence movement. The senyera is a patriotic symbol, while the estelada expresses someone’s support for the movement that would make Catalonia independent from Spain.

The estelada flag, not the senyera. (Photo by Josep LAGO / AFP)

4. Ask if you want to go trick or treating in Catalonia on the 31st of October

Halloween is a relatively new thing in Spain and while some people like to dress up and go knocking on doors on October 31st, many Catalans feels like it overshadows our own traditions. This autumn holiday is historically celebrated as la castanyada, a day dedicated to eating chestnuts and making panellets (little marzipan pastries).

5. Celebrate Valentine’s Day instead of Sant Jordi

Another imported holiday! We’re not fans of Valentine’s Day and you won’t see many Catalans carrying heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and fluffy toys or wishing each other a Feliç dia de Sant Valentí! on February 14th. For us, the most romantic day of the year is the April 23rd (also St George’s day, the patron saint of Catalonia), when it’s traditional for lovers to exchange roses and books as gifts.

6. Say cava is a lesser version of champagne

Yes, you may know of cava as “Catalan champagne”. And while cava is generally much cheaper than champagne, the production process is almost the same. We have some great producers like Codorniu and Freixenet, so maybe you should stop wasting your money on the more expensive French stuff!

7. Say what you think about Catalan independence

Passions run high over Catalonia’s independence and Catalans themselves remain divided, with the latest poll in 2022 showing 41 percent in favour of separation while 52 percent wanted to remain in Spain. Politics can be a touchy subject anywhere, but in Catalonia it’s best avoided all together, unless the Catalan person you’re speaking to wants to talk about it.


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For members


How people’s jobs can determine who they vote for in Spain

As Spain is set to start six months of election fever, sociological research has revealed that people's profession can determine who they are most likely to vote for in Spain, and there are some surprising results.

How people's jobs can determine who they vote for in Spain

The latest barometer from Spain’s Public Research Institute (CIS) has shown that there are jobs in Spain that make you more or less likely to vote for a particular political party, and given an interesting (if not slightly surprising) sense of the political climate ahead of regional elections in May and a general election by the end of the year.

GUIDE: Elections in Spain in 2023

Often the CIS polling analyses Spanish voting intention along more familiar demographic lines: age, gender, location, religion, to name just a few.

Another very interesting and revealing one is people’s jobs and the effect it has on their voting intention.

Though far from a perfect study (the methodology doesn’t differentiate between levels of workers within a sector, for example, and can use quite vague descriptors) it nonetheless provides a useful broad strokes picture of the political landscape as we advance into this bumper political year.

So, what did the CIS find, and which professions are more likely to vote for which party?

Who is loyal to the two-party system?

Of the two main political parties that have dominated Spanish politics since the end of the Franco dictatorship, there are clear splits.

Support for the Socialists (PSOE), the incumbent party of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, scored on average 22 percent support among respondents, and scored best not among workers, but among retirees and pensioners, from whom they received 30.4 percent, as well as people who are ‘economically inactive’ (30.2 percent), unpaid domestic workers (23.6 percent) and the unemployed (23.4 percent).

PSOE was supported by 59.7 percent by voters over 64 years of age. The main opposition party, Partido Popular (PP) also polled fairly well with older voters, on 45.4 percent. PP has a greater impact with voters between the ages of 35 and 64, with support of 63.4 percent compared to PSOE’s 58 percent.

PP, which on average had 19.9 percent support, surpassed PSOE among directors and managers (32 percent), administrative support personnel (26.8 percent) as well as farmers, agricultural, forestry and fishing workers (24.1 percent).

Popular Party (PP) leader and presidential candidate Alberto Núñez Feijóo (C) has the vote of many company managers as well as people in the fishing and agricultural industry. (Photo by MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP)


Who are militant Vox supporters?

The CIS data also showed that there is only one professional category for which the two-party system is broken and neither PSOE nor PP leads: in the military and police force, of which a whopping 38.5 percent say they would vote for far-right party Vox if there were general elections tomorrow.

The far-right party, led by Santiago Abascal, also far exceeded its average support (which was 8.4 percent) among farmers and other primary sector occupations (21.4 percent), as well as among students (13 percent), and Spaniards working in management positions (12.6 percent).

Perhaps most interestingly, since the last general election, held in November 2019, the average age of voters backing Vox has decreased. In fact, according to CIS findings it is set to be the party that will benefit the most from the new cohort of voters voting for the first time in an election. Vox would, if an election were held today, impact on 20.1 percent of those ‘new’ voters; a figure that, when translated into votes, would be almost 360,000 young people.

Vox utilities a very effective social media campaign to appeal to young voters, and has around treble the numbers of followers that PP and PSOE do on Instagram.

Leader of the far-right party Vox Santiago Abascal has a lot of support in the military, the police force and young people who haven’t voted before. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

Who supports Spain’s far left?

This was also the first barometer since deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Díaz formally launched her Sumar platform, something that has been dividing the parties to the left of Sánchez’s PSOE.


Sumar scored an average of 8.4 percent, and Podemos, the junior coalition partner in government, 5.1 percent. Both far-left parties ahead their highest levels of support among professionals, scientists and intellectuals (13.5 percent for Sumar and 9 percent for Podemos), as well as with students (7.1 percent and 7.4 percent respectively).

It remains to be seen if the two leftist factions will find an agreement and unite the electoral bases before the general election.

Spanish Minister of Labour Yolanda Díaz (C) is Spain’s most popular politician, opinion polls have shown. (Photo by Thomas COEX / AFP)

Which parties do Spain’s workers not like?

It is also interesting to consider where each party polls worst compared to its average data.

PSOE does worst with the military and police (8.7 percent).

For the PP, the worst figure is that of machine operators and factory workers assemblers (10 percent), while Vox polled just 2.4 support among domestic workers.

Who do Spaniards want as Prime Minister?

CIS also asked respondents which party leader they would prefer as Prime Minister. The results roughly mirror the partisan support figures, with some subtle differences. Pedro Sánchez is the most popular overall (21.3 percent average), and his support among retirees and pensioners stands out (30.2 percent). Alberto Núñez Feijóo, leader of PP, is the preferred candidate of 14.6 percent overall, and among the managerial class 28.1 percent.

But the leaders at the political extremes seem to have the most loyal support among specific groups in Spain. Vox’s Santiago Abascal is the favourite leader among a single group of voters, that of the police and military (27.8 percent support, compared to just 5.8 percent on average), and the second most popular among a specific section of the electorate was Yolanda Díaz, the favourite of professionals, scientists and intellectuals (22.3 percent, with an overall average of 13.2 percent).