Constitution Day marks the anniversary of a referendum held in Spain on December 6, 1978. In this referendum, a new constitution was approved . This was an important step in Spain’s transition to becoming a constitutional monarchy and democracy.
What do people do?
On the days before Constitution Day, children and young people have extra lessons on the history, politics and constitution of Spain. Each year, a selection of high school students are invited to read the Constitution in the Lower House of the parliamentary buildings in Madrid a few days before December 6. The parliamentary buildings are open to the general public for one or two days. A cocktail party is held in the parliamentary buildings on December 6. Constitution Day is a quiet day off work for most people. They spend time at home relaxing with family members or close friends.
Constitution Day is a national public holiday. Public life is generally very quiet and most businesses and other organizations are closed. Most stores are closed, although some bakers and food stores may be open. Public transport services generally run to a reduced schedule, although there may be no services in rural areas. Official ceremonies may cause some congestion in Madrid.
If December 6 falls on a Sunday, regional or local authorities can move the public holiday to a different date. If December 6 falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, many businesses and organizations are also closed on Monday, December 5, or Friday, December 7.
The Francisco Franco was head of state in Spain from April 1, 1939, until November 20, 1975. Spain needed a new constitution and political system after his death. General elections were held on June 15, 1977. The newly formed parliament started drew up a new constitution. The Spanish Constitution of 1978 was approved by 88 percent of the people of Spain in a referendum on December 6, 1978.
Physical representations of the Spanish Constitution are important symbols of Constitution Day. An original copy, signed by King Juan Carlos I, is in the building of the Spanish Congress of Deputies on the Carrera de San Jerónimo in Madrid.
The national flag of Spain consists of two horizontal red bands separated by a yellow band. The red bands are of equal width and the yellow band is twice as wide as each red band. This version of the flag was confirmed in the constitution of 1978. The national flag is widely displayed on private homes, public buildings and even public transport vehicles on Constitution Day. It may be displayed alone or together with the European and regional flags.