Dia de Andalucía takes place on the 28 February each year. It celebrates the day when the Andalusian electorate voted for the region to become an autonomous community of Spain in 1980. Spain has a total of 17 autonomous communities each with their right to exercise self-government within the limits of the Spanish Constitution. Because of this unique framework of territorial administration, Spain is often described as a ‘nation of nations’. Andalucía, located on the southern border of Spain, is the most populous and largest in terms of area of all of Spain’s communities. It also has a particularly rich culture and heritage. Not only is it the birthplace of the guitar, flamenco dancing and tapas, but the region also has a strong Islamic history and Islamic architecture continues to feature prominently throughout the region, for example, at the medieval Cathedral-Mosque of Córdoba. In fact, the name ‘Andalucía’ is derived from the Arabic word “Al-Andalus” meaning ‘the Vandals’ referring to the Germanic people who overran Spain and northern Africa in the 4th and 5th centuries AD. There was also a special form of Andalusian Arabic which was in oral use throughout the region between the 9th and 17th centuries.
As the 28th is a public holiday in the region, Andalusians spend their day with their family and friends, dancing, drinking and eating. A traditional breakfast in the region is a slice of toast with olive oil and a layer of orange juice, and some municipalities will even arrange communal meals with different varieties of traditional dishes and drinks. It is also common for people to hang their Andalusian flag out of their windows or on their balconies, with colourful bunting decorating their towns and villages. Often there are ‘cultural competitions’ held on this day, and some schools hold an entire ‘culture week’ for children to learn more about their region. The Andalusian anthem ‘La bandera blanca y verde’ (the green and white flag) is widely sung, with the chorus championing the region’s autonomy: ‘Andalusians, stand up! Demand land and freedom!’