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Gibraltar Rock Tour – Customs and Traditions

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Gibraltar’s Culture, Customs & Traditions by Gibraltar Rock Tours

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What is a custom? seems a good question to bring up and help us define the difference between a custom and a tradition.

A custom is a usual way of behaving or acting and a tradition is a custom, opinion or belief handed down from one generation to another, often orally or by practice.

It is quite obvious to everyone who has visited or lived on the Rock  that the culture of Gibraltar truly reflects the Gibraltarians‘ diverse origins.

While there are very clear Spanish and British influences due to  the result of the territory’s status as a British overseas territory and its proximity to Spain.

The ethnic origins of most Gibraltarians are a mix of Andalusian SpaniardsGenoeseMaltesePortuguese and British.

The main religion is Christianity, the majority group being the Roman Catholic Church, then the Church of England.

There is also a long established Jewish community, a Hindu community and a Moroccan Muslim population too.

And what is most wonderful and fantastic is that everyone gets along! A true example to the world!

Gibraltarians of Genoese origin came to The Rock in the 18th century, with the Maltese and Portuguese following in the 19th century, coming to work and trade in the British military base.

Spanish Andalusian origins are the result of generations of intermarriage.

During the Second World War, the civilian population of The Rock was evacuated, Gibraltarians were moved to the UK, particularly in London and Ballymena in Northern Ireland, as well as Jamaica and Madeira.

This served to strengthen the Gibraltarian identity, as opposed to simply being British when they returned to The Rock after the war.

Songs and plays were written, an overwhelming sense of unity was created. Which I believe is still true today.

Our National Day although relatively new in our History, must be our most popular tradition, although changes have been made to our celebrations in recent years and even though the most famous and popular red & White Balloons are no longer released into the sky we still manage to have a great day dressed in red & white every year to celebrate our National Pride.

Britain is full of culture and traditions which have been around for hundreds of years. British customs and traditions are famous all over the world. When people think of Britain they often think if people drinking tea, eating fish & chips and wearing bowler hats, but there is more to Britain then just those things and this is also true for us Gibraltarians.

In Gibraltar our Britishness is very important and at times quite apparent, Like the English we also drink tea with scones, and a great Gibraltarian custom is having tea even on a hot summer’s day at the beach… come 4ish and the flasks come out and accompanied by a Japonesa (local cake) delivered to the beach by the Bakery van) Filled Bread rolls are preferred to the more British cucumber sandwiches for tea. Another Gibraltarian beach custom is to play Ludo. Usually on a handmade wooden Ludo Board also made Locally, cards are also played and Locals can be seen playing long into late afternoon/evenings on the beach in the summer.

Gibraltarian cuisine is the result of a long relationship between the Andalusian Spaniard and the British and often common to see too much of both types of food at celebratory events.

Breakfast could be a Full English Breakfast or a toast with olive oil, tomato & Spanish ham. We love them both !

We also love Fish & chips but I would call it a custom to have it on  Friday’s like in the UK  but that isn’t really so here in Gibraltar and no Bowler hats are to be seen anywhere on the Rock ever !…… we have so many influences from our diverse backgrounds that we have picked up from them all and customized some to make up our own Gibraltarian customs and traditions.

Gibraltar’s community love a parade and are common to celebrate just about everything from the Queens Birthday to the arrival of The Three Kings at our Christmas Cavalcade and many celebrations in between.

I was recently given a very interesting book called Our Customs Traditions & Quirks by M. Ruiz BEM GA. It was surprising for me to  see myself reflected in this book in the things I do or say as part of my every day life.

Like kissing leftover stale bread before I throw any of it out or having a San Pancracio with a coin on it’s finger in my kitchen and some Parsley in a glass of water by it’s side. These definitely sound like they are more Spanish to me.

I think we must also have some Italian influences with a custom which I feel is now growing out of fashion and no longer a tradition but was also highlighted in the book, to buy a newborn child a gold hand amulet. In Italy it is known as Mano Cornuto. This was very popular with our parents and grandparents generation but not so much nowadays.

We are a culture with many customs & traditions, too many to mention now but it just seems to me and makes me a little bit sad to think that some of these will disappear with time in our ever changing world.

These local books are true treasures full of history and explanations of the how’s & why’s we Gibraltarians are like we are. I will definitely be looking out for more on the subject.

I really hope this was as interesting for you read as it was for me to explore and write about and oh thanks for reading!


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