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Culture and Identity

The global community is defined by culture. Culture is essentially something that establishes distinction in society as individuals have specific cultural aspects which differentiate them from individuals hailing from another community. So what exactly does culture refer to? Culture generally refers to the customs, traditions, ideas, Mores, institutions and values of a given Society. Basically, it is the way of life of people. The focus of this paper is on the examination of cultural aspects of a given region with a basis on a novel. The novel, in this case, is The Spanish Wedding. The storyline provides a perspective of some aspects that define the Spanish community. The main elements that feature in this paper include the key themes, which are weddings, cultural heritage, cultural identity and intercultural connections. Given that the novel touches on these aspects in relation to Spanish and American persons, the emphasis will be on them.


The Spanish Love Deception is a novel by Elena Armas, One of the top Spanish authors across the world. This is a romantic comedy or rather rom-com which follows a Spanish woman who decides to fake a date with a colleague with the intention of bringing him to her sister’s wedding. Catalina Martins, the central character, lied to her family about being in a relationship as they were quite insisting that she does not stay single. She becomes very desperate to get someone to act as her date for the wedding. That is when she resorts to inviting an American boyfriend. As such, everyone expects to see him, including her ex-boyfriend, who was part of the disastrous relationship that essentially ended her stay in Spain (Elena 1).

Cultural Heritage

Cultural heritage is what individuals inherit and pass along to future generations. In this case, the relevant aspects include beliefs and practices which are reflective of a specific community. From the novel, the key cultural heritage revolves around the wedding. Weddings are major practice worldwide. Each culture has particular practices which are definitive of their ways, and the Spanish persons are no different. The wedding of Catalina’s sister brings the focus on this practice among Spanish people. Weddings are one of the most important ceremonies in Spain. Traditionally, they are known as bodas, and they generally follow catholic traditions (Muñoz-Pérez and Joaquín 493). The number of guests tends to be around 200, but this also depends on the couple getting married and their family. In many cases, when individuals decide on a wedding, it may be a small reception featuring family and close friends. What makes the wedding of the sister significant is that more and more people are opting for civil marriages rather than weddings (Muñoz-Pérez and Joaquín 505). The popularity of weddings nowadays is not as it was in the past.

One of the customs that are characteristic of Spanish weddings entails throwing rose petals or rice at the moment when the exit of the couple the location where they held their wedding. However, one thing that is clear is that many traditions have changed over time, a reflection of people getting away from their cultural heritage (Muñoz-Pérez and Joaquín 513). Previously, weddings usually started in the afternoon and went on all the way till the following morning. Nowadays, it is a commonplace to have them either in the morning or afternoon. The engagement and wedding rings are worn on the ring finger by women. The difference is that the former is worn on the left hand while the latter is on the right hand. The Spanish catholic weddings feature sharing of 13 gold coins by the bride and groom (Muñoz-Pérez and Joaquín 489). The coins are known as areas which also means unity coins. They are representative of the commitment of the married couple to share what they have and live their future together. The weddings usually do not have groomsmen, bridesmaids, maids of honor and best man. Instead, they have padrinos who are in many cases, the groom’s mother and bride’s father (Muñoz-Pérez and Joaquín 490). The padrino’s job is also to keep the couples from seeing each prior to the conduction of the wedding ceremony.

The traditional figures are supposed to accompany the bride and groom and act as witnesses to the union between couples. The head table is set for six people who comprise the bride, groom and their parents. For couples who already have children, these family members get to sit with them. During the ceremony, guests go to the head table to offer gifts and give their appreciation for the invite. The bride and groom or designated persons may go from table to table, giving the guests wedding favors for purposes of remembrance of the day. These favors are also known as detalles. Another tradition which has become less common in recent years is handing the grooms cigars while the bride is given a small gift like a pin which she is supposed to wear. With the changes that have taken place, the couple gets more personalized gifts instead of the typical cigars or wine.

Some other tradition has involved the groom’s close friends taking his tie, cutting it and selling pieces in order to raise money for the couple. The friends of the bride would also do something similar but with her wedding garter. The flowers that are used in the wedding are usually orange blossoms, a testament of the popularity of oranges in Spain. These flowers represent happiness and joy for the newlyweds and are also a sign of fertility. Although it is common for brides to wear white, in Spain brides opt for black Silk dresses as is their tradition. Black functions as a sign of commitment and devotion to the husband. The tradition of wearing a black dress goes hand in hand with a black veil. It is called a mantilla, and it features intricate laces.

A wedding cannot be complete without food and dance. Seafood is very common in the Spanish culture, and it forms the common dishes served to gatherings at weddings. One of the main meals is paella. The contents of this meal may vary, but it mainly contains a mixture of seafood, vegetables and rice. The food is appropriate for ceremonies that have a large number of attendees. Other kinds of food that can be expected at a Spanish wedding are Gazpacho and Pisto. In matters of dance, there is a traditional wedding which is popularly known as sequidillas manchegas and forms part the wedding ceremony. These customs and traditions are crucial to the Spaniards who have over the years kept them going.

Intercultural Connection

One aspect that is evident in the novel is the association between Catalina and her supposed American boyfriend, Aaron Blackford. The major theme that stands out here is the globalization factor, as defined by how individuals from different sides of the world end up meeting and forming some relations. From Roca and Umeneta (568), there is coverage of globalization which helps in understanding the how intercultural connections come to be. Catalina is Spanish, while Blackford is American by descent. These individuals grew up in different places, but they were able to meet because of migration. While the relationship was fake by all accounts, what makes it relevant is the increase in the popularity of bi-national associations (Schaer 1). Traditionally, individuals were accustomed to marrying or getting into intimate relationships with individuals from the same community. However, as time has progressed, there has been more acceptance of relationships which feature persons of different communities.

The increase has been driven migratory process, as Roca and Umeneta (568) make it clear. There are numerous immigrants in Spain and this situation has led to relations between Spanish men and foreign women. Some characteristics which have driven this reality include the fact that Spain is one of the countries in Europe which have experienced substantial growth in immigration (Schaer 1). There has also been a significant transformation in regards to the gender system in recent times. More women are getting highly educated and entering the workforce. There is a tendency for more women to be emancipated from marriages and reproduction (Schaer 1). There are more legislations which govern gender policies, and they have given individuals more rights and made the relevant processes much easier. These polices provide people more room to navigate their choices based on their own interests and desires instead of the communal way of thinking.

From the study that Roca and Umeneta conducted, it can be observed that there is a significant connection between Spain and America, given the high number of foreign women in Spain and the number of marriages to Spanish men. The numbers are actually much higher when comparing the figures associated with other countries and geographical regions (569). What Catalina and Blackford represent is actually the opposite of the findings, as their relationship is about the American man being the foreigner instead of the Spanish woman. Nonetheless, the outcomes are still representative of the changes that Spain and the world in extension has seen. Catalina found herself in American mainly because she was working there. This is a factor of the bigger roles that women play in society when it comes to the labor market. Women are more likely to be in the workforce nowadays. The novel indicates that her mindset was not in the space of having a relationship, and it was only her family members who were pushing the idea. She was generally lamenting about her family complaining about her being single and that was why she resorted to lying about the relationship.

From what it looks like, Catalina is a modern woman who is quite focused on her career and seems not mindful of getting into any relationship. She was much interested in pursuing her career at an engineering firm in Brooklyn, New York. Spain has become has become more of a destination for immigrants rather than in previous occasions when it generally sent out emigrants. Catalina’s case is a show of the impact of emigration. Personal issues with her ex-boyfriend might have been behind her moving to America, but this was only a means to an end which is defined by establishing a connection with Blackford. What Roca and Umeneta (570) address is basically associated with what Catalina experienced, only that the authors focused on Spanish men having a relationship with Spanish women and foreign women. A reason that they provide for people opting for relations with foreigners is the experience of an unsatisfactory relationship with Spanish people. While it is challenging to gather whether the fake relationship could turn out to be something of great value, the research by Roca and Umeneta supports the notion that a bad relationship with a native person can lead to choosing a foreigner. Catalina and Blackford are the embodiment of the continuing growth in popularity of bi-nation associations.

Spanish Identity

Spain is a region that is characterized by distinctiveness in cultural and regional identities. The state has been the key factor in shaping regional-cultural identification across various areas in the country. The state has played this role much more than the actual cultural markers. The markers have, however also played a key role in the progression of the Spanish identity. Each and every region in Spain features uniqueness in their cultural identities, and individuals are usually proud of what defines their identity (Aparicio 251). This can be observed in the novel whereby Catalina’s family express pride in carrying out major elements within their culture. Many things which are mostly associated with the Spanish tend to have origins based on the local or regional boundaries (Aparicio 251). As each region has distinct cultural aspects, the country is quite diverse, but still, the national identity is always a strong and unifying factor among the Spaniards.

The Spanish culture is known to have strong social dimensions, which are characterized by celebrations which are known as fiestas. The wedding in the novel shows why celebrations are integral parts of the culture within the country. The communication style of the people is mainly open and lively, which is reflective of the confidence and enthusiasm that they ooze. At first, it looked like Catalina did not like Blackford at all. Their conversations revealed the style and openness that the Spanish people have, as she was very open and direct with him. Another aspect of identity that comes out of from the novel includes nationalistic and regionalistic identities. Her family mainly shows the kind of loyalty and affiliation that they have to their local identity (Aparicio 271). Their situation somewhat pits regional identity over national identity. Depending on the region that one comes from, national loyalty may take precedence over regional loyalty and vice versa. Ideally, Spain is a country that has a complex and diverse culture which is regional for the most part.

American Identity

The role that Blackford plays in the novel makes it vital that there is some focus on American cultural identity. Unlike Spain, there is difficulty in determining what the identity is in America. Spain has a distinct ethnic, national, linguistic and religious background which cannot be said of the US. What is the presumption is that America is a place that leads to the merging of different cultures in the process of creating a new breed (Rosenmann et al. 205). The narrative that Armas provided in her book showed just how America is a collection of individuals with diverse backgrounds, as Catalina and Blackford met and made a connection, albeit through the workplace. America is founded on ideas rather than a single culture. As Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal, once stated, America is a collection of ideals which revolve around the rule of law, freedom, equality, individualism and hard work (Rosenmann et al. 209). These elements are reflected in the novel, especially through Catalina and Blackford’s opportunity to advance their careers.

The culture of the US can be said to be of Western and European origin, given that a number of countries, including the United Kingdom and Spain, played major roles in creating what America is today. The origins and influence, though, extend to cultures of Asian Americans, Latin Americans, African Americans and Native Americans (Rosenmann et al. 203). Different studies have shown that the US is and will always be a land of immigrants. The aforementioned origins and influences indicate that immigrants have come from all corners of the globe and the country continues to grow as other immigrants continue to arrive. Immigrants/emigrants such as Catalina are the ones who continue with this trend. When individuals refer to the country as a melting pot, it refers to how associations such as between Catalina and Blackford lead to changes and developments in regard to aspects such as language, religion, value and dressing. There is usually adaptation and conformity to the norms in the region, though individuals may also stay true to their selves to an extent.

Language, Communication and Interaction

The first thing that makes individuals from Spain and America stand out between themselves is language. Language is more or less the most basic cultural aspect which defines people and their communities. For Spain, the language is deeply tied to their identity and is indicative of the regions that individuals come from (Aparicio 248). There are local dialects with which Spaniards communicate and interact with in day-to-day occasions. There are millions that speak these local dialects, but overall, the majority of individuals speak the Spanish language, also referred to as Castilian. Some of the local or regional languages include Galician, Basque, Catalan and Aranese (Aparicio 258)While the national language (Spanish) carries the official status across the country, the regional languages have official status in the regions where they originated.

During these times when the world is more globalized than ever, being bilingual is very important. Armas is a Spanish author, but the novel was written in English and has been translated into numerous languages. This shows that there are benefits to understanding more than just one’s native language. The relevant features from the novel are associated with the intercultural association between Catalina and Blackford and the fact that she was settled in the US for work. What makes her ability to thrive in Brooklyn, New York is that she is able to converse effectively in English; thus, she has an easier time fitting in as compared to someone who does not have a comprehension of the language. She is able to get along with Blackford because they are able to interact in the language. In Blackford’s case, going to Spain for the wedding means that he needs to gain some knowledge of the language. This is because, as the official language of the nation, there is a high chance that family members of Catalina won’t communicate in English. Therefore, the impetus is on him to gain some ground in his speaking Spanish. In order to better fit in place, he would also need to understand some of the wedding rituals and customs that were discussed earlier.

There are other elements which describe the nature of Spanish people. They are mostly informal persons, and they tend to get into a first-name basis swiftly following meeting someone. Their nature is characterized by being candid, especially after they make an acquaintance. They are also honest when it comes to their opinions and encourage of free flow of ideas (Aparicio 271). They can be outwardly emotional and are open to the expression of affection, sadness or anger. From the examination of the key characters in The Spanish Love Deception, some of these elements, such being expressional, open and candid, can be seen in how they communicate and interact with each other.

Comparison with Person Cultural Background

The Spanish and Chinese customs and traditions are quite different from each other which is telling of how the world is diverse. Among the Chinese, before the weddings, grooms present betrothal gifts which may be gold, wine or wax candles. These are meant to represent the symbol of great fortune and prosperity to the bride’s family (Zhu 13). The return of some of the gifts as an indication of acceptance and building relationships with the groom’s family. The couple usually receives double happiness symbols, twelve or six gifts presented to the bride’s family (Zhu 57). Red and goal are the common colors that are used in the weddings such as the use of red envelopes for presenting gifts. Other things that are part of the process of getting wedded are tea ceremonies and hair combing. There are similarities between the Chinese and Spanish cultures with respect to offering symbolic gifts. The gifts vary in terms of what they are made up of although gold jewelry is common across both of the cultures. The differences, which include some of the ceremonies and activities, show how both of them are rich and unique in their own ways.

The Chinese culture has also seen a rise in marriages between them and foreigners. While they were as norms from the outside, the numbers of these marriages have risen. This has been observed in China and also in US. This has been the result of globalization and rapid economic growth in China (Zhu 11). These are factors that relate to the growth of intercultural marriages in Spain and between Spaniards and foreigners. Like the Spaniards, the Chinese also embrace cultural values and traditions which define their identity. Some of the values are harmony, loyalty and honesty. The main language is Han Chinese which is spoken by a huge majority of the country’s citizens. China is mainly a collectivist culture, but there has been growth in individualistic attitudes thanks to the financial and economic progression. Other values include politeness and courtesy.


Culture and identity are critical aspects in society. Each and every community has its own unique elements which make up their culture. The Spanish Love Deception provided direction, which helped explore cultural aspects that are part and parcel of the way of life of Spanish people. This understanding has come from examining cultural elements such as weddings, language, communication and identity. The novel is not only entertaining but it is reflected in modern-day features and themes like international marriages, immigration and cultural exchange across different cultures. The outcome is that there is a deeper insight into what defines different cultures. This is a step towards gaining better comprehension of cultural diversity. It is important that there is more attention towards learning more about the different cultures around the world. This understanding could become useful in future interactions with individuals from various cultures.

Works Cited

Aparicio, Frances R. “Of Spanish dispossessed.” Language Ideologies. Routledge, 2021. 248-275.

Armas, Elena.. The Spanish Deception: A Novel. (2022).

Muñoz-Pérez, Francisco, and Joaquín Recaño-Valverde. “A century of nuptiality in Spain, 1900–2007.” European Journal of Population/Revue européenne de Démographie 27.4 (2011): 487-515.

Rca, Jordi, and Aana Umeneta. “Bi-national weddings in Spain: A recent frequent phenomenon in the context of globalization of the marriage market.” Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences 82 (2013); 567-573.

Rosenmann, Amir, Gerhard Reese, and James E. Cameron. “Social identities in a globalized world: Challenges and opportunities for collective action.” Perspectives on psychological science 11.2 (2016): 202-221.

Schaer, Alec Bryan. International Marriages: Culture, Identity Formation, Social And Historical Context. Diss. Illinois State University, 2020.

Zhu, Yujie. Heritage and romantic consumption in China. Amsterdam University Press, 2018.


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