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Is the camino a ritual for all spanish people?

RachelNZ

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances April/May 2017
Portuguese Camino Apr/May 2019
Hi fellow pilgrims, Is the Camino a ritual for most Spanish to do at least once in their lifetime? I do remember hearing this when I walked a couple of years ago. I have to write an essay for university on a ritual and I'd like to write on this topic as I have a lot of insider knowledge on it! But I just need to make sure it can be called a ritual, itself. There are a lot of rituals done within the Camino experience, I do realise, and I may mention these as well.
Many thanks!
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Hi fellow pilgrims, Is the Camino a ritual for most Spanish to do at least once in their lifetime? I do remember hearing this when I walked a couple of years ago. I have to write an essay for university on a ritual and I'd like to write on this topic as I have a lot of insider knowledge on it! But I just need to make sure it can be called a ritual, itself. There are a lot of rituals done within the Camino experience, I do realise, and I may mention these as well.
Many thanks!
Other than the Spaniards that I've met on the Camino I only know a few Spaniards, and none of them have done, or considered doing the Camino.
 
Past OR future Camino
Ingles 2018
Hi fellow pilgrims, Is the Camino a ritual for most Spanish to do at least once in their lifetime? I do remember hearing this when I walked a couple of years ago. I have to write an essay for university on a ritual and I'd like to write on this topic as I have a lot of insider knowledge on it! But I just need to make sure it can be called a ritual, itself. There are a lot of rituals done within the Camino experience, I do realise, and I may mention these as well.
Many thanks!
No, would be a my one word answer without searching statistics. Maybe some Spainards walk the Camino because it is in their own backyard and some have an apathy for the same reason?
 

RachelNZ

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances April/May 2017
Portuguese Camino Apr/May 2019
Other than the Spaniards that I've met on the Camino I only know a few Spaniards, and none of them have done, or considered doing the Camino.
Wow is that right!? In the movie, The Way and in John Brierley's guidebook, I'm sure they both suggest that the Camino is a thing that all Spaniards attempt to do some time or other. There were so many locals who started from Sarria in particular, that I encountered. I should have asked them as they passed me! Thanks for your reply.
 

Turga

Camino tortuga
Past OR future Camino
CF (Aug/Sep 2017)
CF (Aug/Sep 2018)
I don’t know if you could say that walking a Camino is a ritual for all Spanish, but perhaps you could argue that a pilgrimage is a ritual and an act of penance within Catholicism. With this small “twist” you could still do an essay on a Spanish Camino as a ritual. Just a thought.
 
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Doughnut NZ

From Aotearoa New Zealand
Past OR future Camino
2022
Wow is that right!? In the movie, The Way and in John Brierley's guidebook, I'm sure they both suggest that the Camino is a thing that all Spaniards attempt to do some time or other. There were so many locals who started from Sarria in particular, that I encountered. I should have asked them as they passed me! Thanks for your reply.
I was told by a local friend that if you don't walk a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in your life time then you are destined to after your death. The implication being that it was better to do while alive but I didn't explore why.
 

Stroller

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Norte (2015), Frances (2016)
Wow is that right!? In the movie, The Way and in John Brierley's guidebook, I'm sure they both suggest that the Camino is a thing that all Spaniards attempt to do some time or other. There were so many locals who started from Sarria in particular, that I encountered. I should have asked them as they passed me! Thanks for your reply.
One of which is fiction from start to finish, the other part fiction. Don't base research on either of them.
 

dick bird

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
There are approximately 47.15 million Spaniards. If every one of that 47.15 million were to walk the camino just once in their lives, the camino would be a very crowded place. And so far as Spanish culture and society is concerned, you need to look at religious observance in Spain: the vast majority still describe themselves as Catholic, but seminaries are empty and churches are locked up around the clock (not just those in remote areas either). You also need to step back and look at Spanish history and look at the political use that has been made of the Santiago cult over the centuries. For example, the sobriquet 'Matamoros'. If I were Spanish, I don't think I would be all that comfortable if my patron saint were nicknamed 'killer of Moroccans', and a lot of Spanish people aren't at all comfortable with it. More recently, there is the way that Franco made use of the Santiago cult - you can check this in a reliable history of Spain, don't take my word for it. What I am trying to say here is that many Spanish people feel ambivalent about the camino, the Jacobean cult and the Catholic church, and they may have their own good reasons for that. Perhaps it would be a good idea to put this question to some Spanish people. Spain is a complex country.
 
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Past OR future Camino
2014, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
Various routes...
Perhaps it would be a good idea to put this question to some Spanish people. Spain is a complex country.
My response exactly.
Dick has many good points.

Wow is that right!? In the movie, The Way and in John Brierley's guidebook, I'm sure they both suggest that the Camino is a thing that all Spaniards attempt to do some time or other.
These are not exactly your best sources of information. Especially the fictitious movie version. But even Brierley has a gauzy view of the camino that isn't exactly grounded in the complicatex reality of Spain.
 
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MinaKamina

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Jacobspad 2017
The Camino is above all a marketing trick and it is cleverly done. Apparently up to a point that in NZ it is believed that it is a hadj of sorts? The mind boggles.
The data tell another story, 50 years ago hardly anyone walked what we now call 'the Camino'.

Spain has other holy places, often local, where devotees go on a short pilgrimage. Look up 'romería', for instance Romería del Rocío. Spain has other rituals, like the processions during the Holy Week.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I met with some Spanish students in Sarria who told me that it can be a good thing to have a completed 100km Camino on your resumé/CV. Apparently some employers/universities see the pilgrimage as a positive string to your bow. I thought that was kinda nice. BC.
I too, have heard this exact same thing several times from others while walking.
 

lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
.
I was told by a local friend that if you don't walk a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in your life time then you are destined to after your death. The implication being that it was better to do while alive but I didn't explore why.
Salut @Doughnut NZ
Something similar is said about the Tro Breizh pilgrimage in Brittany, France:

'An old Breton legend says that those who do not complete the Tro Breizh in their lifetime will be sentenced to complete it in their afterlife walking the length of the tour from within their coffin every seven years. Until the 16C tradition demanded that every Breton should make a pilgrimage at least once in his or her lifetime to the seven Cathedrals of Brittany.'
-Tro Breizh, Wikipedia (English traslation). Notes and references in French

Cheers,
-Lovingkindness
 
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dick bird

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
My response exactly.
Dick has many good points.


These are not exactly your best sources of information. Especially the fictitious movie version. But even Brierley has a gauzy view of the camino that isn't exactly grounded in the complicatex reality of Spain.
Hi fellow pilgrims, Is the Camino a ritual for most Spanish to do at least once in their lifetime? I do remember hearing this when I walked a couple of years ago. I have to write an essay for university on a ritual and I'd like to write on this topic as I have a lot of insider knowledge on it! But I just need to make sure it can be called a ritual, itself. There are a lot of rituals done within the Camino experience, I do realise, and I may mention these as well.
Many thanks

Not sure if this will work (i.e. is it readable?), but this is a very good chapter on the 'reformulation' of the camino and might give you some good insights.
 

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Faye Walker

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
If your paper is for a university course, then I strongly suggest that you read the anthropologist, Victor Turner, on pilgrimages; Robert A. Scott on the place of the “miracle cure” of pilgrimage in the history of medicine (in which he covers the ancient notion of ritual and the contemporary notion of self-efficacy; Bourdieu on the practical features of daily living; and James Michener’s final chapter in Iberia on the mid-20th C route to Santiago.
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Past OR future Camino
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
I was told by a local friend that if you don't walk a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in your life time then you are destined to after your death. The implication being that it was better to do while alive but I didn't explore why.
That refers to San Andres de Teixido ;-) not Santiago https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cedeira#Santo_André_de_Teixido

As for the OP's question, I would say it's part of the Spanish cultural heritage, but not necessary a ritual 'all' Spanish people aim to do.
BC SY
 

Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Not sure if this will work (i.e. is it readable?), but this is a very good chapter on the 'reformulation' of the camino and might give you some good insights.
Thanks for posting this. Excellent summary and overview.

I noticed that it mentions Camino walking/pilgrimage as part of a credit-bearing academic programme and similar education pilgrimage programmes sponsored by universities in Spain and abroad. From what I've read, short pilgrimages to Santiago can also be part of the school curriculum that teaches kids about the history, patrimony, landscapes and traditions of their country Spain or of their own region. The University of Santiago recently put together an online course for educators to show how this can be done.

I don't have much direct insight. I can count my conversations with Spanish Camino pilgrims that go beyond "Buen Camino" and "It's hot today/It rains a lot today" and "¿De donde eres?" on the fingers of one hand.
 
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annangulo

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
Hi fellow pilgrims, Is the Camino a ritual for most Spanish to do at least once in their lifetime? I do remember hearing this when I walked a couple of years ago. I have to write an essay for university on a ritual and I'd like to write on this topic as I have a lot of insider knowledge on it! But I just need to make sure it can be called a ritual, itself. There are a lot of rituals done within the Camino experience, I do realise, and I may mention these as well.
Many thanks!
No. And, some don't even know about the Camino although it is becoming more popular and we'll known.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
@RachelNZ: Xacopedia, a kind of Wikipedia for the Camino de Santiago, writes that the fact of walking the Camino de Santiago, following a route marked and followed by thousands of people for centuries, is a ritual in itself. - El hecho de realizar el Camino de Santiago guiándose por una ruta marcada y seguida por miles de personas durante siglos, ya resulta un ritual en sí mismo.

So I guess you could frame walking for example the 500 miles from SJPP as the overarching ritual and then detail smaller contemporary rituals within this frame. Why try to write from the Spanish point of view? Write from the point of view of the contemporary international pilgrim which you know best.

Rituals don't have to be centuries old to be rituals, they have to start at a point in time that might as well be only 20 years ago .... and besides, rituals may have a distant origin but they change both in form and meaning over time.
 
Past OR future Camino
2014, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
Various routes...
, I think that the general Spanish view of hacer el Camino is hugely different from the Sheen/Estevez and Brierley narratives.
I was struck by the attitude of Bolitx in The Great Westward Walk, as he left home to walk to Santiago - almost furtive, wanting to escape unseen without having to explain himself to anyone he might know.

In the same circumstance, Brierley añd Sheen/Estevez would likely be talking up a storm and/or gathering a camino family.🙃
 

MichelleElynHogan

Veteran Member
Pilgrimage, as a ritual, is, and always has been. This is a common occurrence across religions and throughout the World. And, with each instance, there is a spectrum from devout to apathetic. In Spain, in modern times, there is no difference from the rest of the World.
 

gollygolly

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2000/13/14/15/16/17/18/19/2021
Hi fellow pilgrims, Is the Camino a ritual for most Spanish to do at least once in their lifetime? I do remember hearing this when I walked a couple of years ago. I have to write an essay for university on a ritual and I'd like to write on this topic as I have a lot of insider knowledge on it! But I just need to make sure it can be called a ritual, itself. There are a lot of rituals done within the Camino experience, I do realise, and I may mention these as well.
Many thanks!
My understanding is only a personal understanding, and not a fact. My understanding is that there is no obligation of any sort for any Spanish person to walk or go on the Camino. Those who do are making a personal choice, often walking the final ‘stretches’ only, commencing in Sarria or Tui.
 
Past OR future Camino
Frances (2016), Norte (2017), Portuges (2018), Mozarabe (2019), Primitivo (2019), Via de La Plata (2
Hi fellow pilgrims, Is the Camino a ritual for most Spanish to do at least once in their lifetime? I do remember hearing this when I walked a couple of years ago. I have to write an essay for university on a ritual and I'd like to write on this topic as I have a lot of insider knowledge on it! But I just need to make sure it can be called a ritual, itself. There are a lot of rituals done within the Camino experience, I do realise, and I may mention these as well.
Many thanks!
Hi there. I live in a village in Andalucia and have been lucky enough to have done 2 Caminos with between 16 and 20 of our neighbours. As a general rule there is no ritual for Spaniards to do the Camino. Our village has 300 inhabitants so you can see what a low ratio of the population comes with us.
 
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CaptBuddy

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Fall 2012, again Fall 2014.
I have family in Spain, Cantabria, and many friends I have met in my visits. Two of them, husband and wife, have walk the Camino Frances or sections of the Camino Frances, more times then they can recall. None of the others have any interest in it, at all.
So out of my cross section of Spaniards, I would say it is not a ritual.
 
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Before the pandemic, the Cathedral's figures suggest that about half of those who receive compostelas are Spanish. This would mean about 150,000 Spaniards a year, from a country with a population of about 80 million. Assuming that about half of that 80 million is capable of the 100km+ and working off the back of an envelope that well over a million a year should be engaging in the Camino. So the notion that most Spaniards will do the Camino is ..... erm... inaccurate.

Note as well that many if not most Spanish pilgrims walk in groups of students or friends for the 100km from Sarria on. Those who do the longer routes are a very different cohort, and often have strong religious motives-- I met one woman who was doing it as a penance, and another in performance of a vow. As I can speak French and really bad Castellano, over 11 Caminos I have spoken with many Spaniards along the way and their motivations are all over the map. Another poster has pointed out the divisions in Spain over religion and politics-- those of us outside that culture can barely comprehend its depth (read Giles Tremlett's "Ghosts of Spain" for a good general account).

I do not know if would call the Camino a ritual, although there are ritual aspects and acts. A few of them have fallen by the wayside (touching the pillar on arrival, as it was damaging the stone, and washing one's private parts at Lavacolla-- nowadays everyone seems more comfortable with showers!). People undertaking a memorial or pro vicarii pilgrimage will often visit churches and light candles along the way, but that is likely only perhaps a thousand or so each year-- there's no counting this number.

Others have suggested reading, to which I would add Nancy Frey's Pilgrim Stories. Even if a bit outdated, it is perhaps the most solid accessible-to-general-readers anthropological study.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
That refers to San Andres de Teixido ;-) not Santiago https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cedeira#Santo_André_de_Teixido

As for the OP's question, I would say it's part of the Spanish cultural heritage, but not necessary a ritual 'all' Spanish people aim to do.
BC SY
I have a question for you. I agree from everything I have read and because of my family history (my dad fought with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade against Franco) and the Spaniards I have met because of my dad's past. (He also asked me that after his death I could mention his participation and to state every time that he fought alongside communists but was never a communist and was opposed to communism strongly. "I am a Socialist and Communism has nothing to do with Socialism" was his motto.)
Spain is a very complex society. Many years ago a Spaniard from Barcelona told me that a Spaniard would identify first from the city or region, then their province and then they would identify as citizens of Spain. I have no idea if this was just his definition or this was widespread belief of many Spaniards. It is obvious that there is great pride and personal identification of Spaniards of their regional languages and culture. From this I have gathered that Spain is a very complicated country and I am always careful speaking to Spaniards when I want to learn about their local/regional/national culture, current and historical events etc.
I cannot say that with any confidence or proof that the walking on Camino is a priority of many Spaniards.
I will say and this is where your insight would be really helpful to me is that when I have heard Spaniards in documentaries, in print or in personal interactions I have had, seem to have an innate understanding of the "spirit" of Camino. This seems to be true in my very limited experience. I have droned on long enough. I hope I have made myself clear. Thanks for your participation here. If you choose not to comment no worries.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
Wikipedia says about rituals:
A ritual is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, actions, or objects, performed according to a set sequence. Rituals may be prescribed by the traditions of a community, including a religious community. Rituals are characterized, but not defined, by formalism, traditionalism, invariance, rule-governance, sacral symbolism, and performance.​

Most of the Spaniards seen on the Camino Frances do not appear to be partaking in a ritual. They seem to be sharing in a cultural event, having fun, taking a long walk, and enjoying the accomplishment. On the other hand, the Semana Santa events are rituals.

Even so, several people have made suggestions in the thread as to how you might put a ritual spin on the topic for the purpose of your essay. Or can you turn it into an essay on how it is a ritual for a few people, but not most, and what the difference is?
 
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lt56ny

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
The Camino is above all a marketing trick and it is cleverly done. Apparently up to a point that in NZ it is believed that it is a hadj of sorts? The mind boggles.
The data tell another story, 50 years ago hardly anyone walked what we now call 'the Camino'.

Spain has other holy places, often local, where devotees go on a short pilgrimage. Look up 'romería', for instance Romería del Rocío. Spain has other rituals, like the processions during the Holy Week.
Not to cause an argument or challenge. I agree that there are aspects of the Camino especially along the CF that have definitely been commercialized and marketed to benefit many people. There have been positive and negative effects because of this. The positive I most often see is the dramatic difference especially on the Meseta and some other areas. When I first walked there were many villages where the only people I saw were very old, and the only businesses that were open may have been a tiny tienda or bar. It is much different today.
In terms of it being a trick maybe you are right. In terms of data telling another story also very true.
But what does it matter? I have met many people in my 5000K+ of walking that this "clever marketing trick" helped immeasurably in their struggles and pain. One of my best friends in the world who has never and will never get over the loss of his daughter walked with me. His burden of loss lightened just a sliver. He also found that his burden was great enough without also carrying the hate he had for those who helped to contribute to his daughter's death. He was able to forgive them and has moved on from that hate. Isn't that the true meaning of pilgrimage that is completely free of marketing and tricks?
If you choose to look at the Camino in this manner that is your choice and right. There is so much cynicism already in this world, the mind boggles.
I guess we all make judgements about many things and it is no different here on our forum. Yours is a judgement that may have some facts as do mine. But again today it has become a cottage industry to take the facts that are convenient to mold our own individual narrative.
I said I would never walk the CF after 2015 because I thought it had become too commercial and too crowded for my taste. I did walk it in November/December 2019 and even though remnants of that commercialism were present the feelings/spirit/personal freedom/friendship were there for me every step of the way.
I have walked the Norte late in the year as well as walking from Le Puy to Santiago. If the Covid gods permit I will start in Sevilla on October 14th. In the future I intend to do even quieter and "more primitive" for lack of a better word caminos. I would recommend that if you haven't done so already, try these caminos to rediscover a journey free of marketing tricks and full of discovery especially the discovery of one's self . Buen Camino Pilgrim
 

Mickblack

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2000 - 2004
Perhaps not every Spaniard wants to do the Way but ALL Spaniards are interested in it. An example. After doing the Camino I walked into my local,very busy bank. When I reached the teller she commented that she had not seen me for weeks. I've been walking the Camino, I said. She wanted to know all about it and as the queue got longer and longer the more she wanted to know. I think it was only when the queue reached to the outside door that she stopped talking and served me. Highlight memories of the Camino - the looks that the bank customers gave me as I walked out along the queue to the door !!!!
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Past OR future Camino
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
I have a question for you. I agree from everything I have read and because of my family history (my dad fought with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade against Franco) and the Spaniards I have met because of my dad's past. (He also asked me that after his death I could mention his participation and to state every time that he fought alongside communists but was never a communist and was opposed to communism strongly. "I am a Socialist and Communism has nothing to do with Socialism" was his motto.)
Spain is a very complex society. Many years ago a Spaniard from Barcelona told me that a Spaniard would identify first from the city or region, then their province and then they would identify as citizens of Spain. I have no idea if this was just his definition or this was widespread belief of many Spaniards. It is obvious that there is great pride and personal identification of Spaniards of their regional languages and culture. From this I have gathered that Spain is a very complicated country and I am always careful speaking to Spaniards when I want to learn about their local/regional/national culture, current and historical events etc.
I cannot say that with any confidence or proof that the walking on Camino is a priority of many Spaniards.
I will say and this is where your insight would be really helpful to me is that when I have heard Spaniards in documentaries, in print or in personal interactions I have had, seem to have an innate understanding of the "spirit" of Camino. This seems to be true in my very limited experience. I have droned on long enough. I hope I have made myself clear. Thanks for your participation here. If you choose not to comment no worries.
Quick answer, pretty much any Spanish person I know will self identify themselves like this:

I am from (region of birth/upbringing), I live in (current town/region) and I am Spanish OR I am Galician/Catalan/Basque etc (no matter where they live) in that order. So yes, your friend from Barcelona is still correct ;-)

BC SY
 

jcat

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2016
Hi fellow pilgrims, Is the Camino a ritual for most Spanish to do at least once in their lifetime? I do remember hearing this when I walked a couple of years ago. I have to write an essay for university on a ritual and I'd like to write on this topic as I have a lot of insider knowledge on it! But I just need to make sure it can be called a ritual, itself. There are a lot of rituals done within the Camino experience, I do realise, and I may mention these as well.
Many thanks!

I would say no. I have a lot of close to distant family in Spain, and I know of only 2 who have walked the Camino.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Clever marketing isn't the same as commercialisation.

It's things like this and more: Yesterday they welcomed the 50,000th pilgrim of this year in Santiago. While a representative from the Cathedral was there and the counting had been done by the Oficina del Peregrino, the people present in the photo, taken and released for press and TV, include the vice-president of the regional government of Galicia and the director of the government run Tourist Agency of Galicia. These secular organisations are and have been one of the driving forces behind the most recent "reformulation" of the Camino to Santiago.

A short Camino of 160 km and walking with a large group as in this case, or with family, or with a group of friends from home - not unusual for Spanish pilgrims.

50000.jpg
 
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Bristle Boy

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
Quick answer, pretty much any Spanish person I know will self identify themselves like this:

I am from (region of birth/upbringing), I live in (current town/region) and I am Spanish OR I am Galician/Catalan/Basque etc (no matter where they live) in that order. So yes, your friend from Barcelona is still correct ;-)

BC SY
I worked with a Basque, a fascinating man. He got most upset if anyone referred to him as Spanish.
 

journeycakes

Member
Past OR future Camino
September 2-October 7 (2013)
May 5-28 (2015)
When the topic of ever walking the Camino came up in my conversations (in Spanish) with various Spaniards, many said they were too busy working for a living and could not afford the time away from their jobs.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
A short Camino of 160 km and walking with a large group as in this case, or with family, or with a group of friends from home - not unusual for Spanish pilgrims and also not something that is emphasised in the Sheen/Estevez/Brierley narratives.
Why do you keep undermining the positive influence the movie "The Way" has had for a huge majority of us who discovered the Camino because of it? I loved it, even for its entertainment value alone with it's "feel good" qualities, which are often lacking in much of today's films.
Brierley's book and maps were a godsend to me on my first Camino in 2015. I will never diss his efforts to inform newbies and I knew nothing of Camino apps at that time.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Why do you keep undermining the positive influence the movie "The Way" has had for a huge majority of us who discovered the Camino because of it?
I'm not undermining their narratives; I'm saying that they are different. And I've mentioned this twice because of the premise in one of the first posts in this thread where it says that "The Way and in John Brierley's guidebook, I'm sure they both suggest that the Camino is a thing that all Spaniards attempt to do some time or other". I don't detect a great deal of congruence between their general narratives and the general narrative in the chapter written by Linda Davidson (link in an earlier post). I've made no qualitative pronouncement/judgement about any of their views nor was it my intention. I'm merely interested in understanding and exploring various views/narratives.

I find the comments about the views of Spanish people that are mentioned in this thread by members with contacts to family, friends or casual encounters in Spain interesting because I have the impression (may be wrong) that we hear little about this on the forum and I myself know little about it anyway. I've had a few Spanish colleagues at work and none of them had walked on a camino nor were they planning to do so. The colleagues who did walk or bike were Belgian, Polish (with an Italian husband), German and Lithuanian.

I've now edited my earlier posts and removed the two references with the three names. Immaterial to what I wanted to say and what interests me.
 
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domigee

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
I met with some Spanish students in Sarria who told me that it can be a good thing to have a completed 100km Camino on your resumé/CV. Apparently some employers/universities see the pilgrimage as a positive string to your bow. I thought that was kinda nice. BC.
I’ve heard the same. There was (is) such youth unemployment that it was (is) considered a plus on your CV.
I met a few people here in Alicante who have walked from Sarria to Santiago (a taxi driver last week, the owner of my local bar and… my post-lady!) but of course I never asked them why they did it.
None of my friends from Uni (and we met at a nun’s College!), nor their families have done it and they all think I am quite crazy!!! 😁
I wouldn’t say it is a ritual, no…
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
(…) and they may have their own good reasons for that. Perhaps it would be a good idea to put this question to some Spanish people. Spain is a complex country.
I would add - but please remember this is only my personal opinion! - that I would only ask Spanish people I know well….. and with the utmost care.
Even then, after 50 years, we only now mention certain subjects, very cautiously
and little by little….
 

taigirl

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2019
Hi fellow pilgrims, Is the Camino a ritual for most Spanish to do at least once in their lifetime? I do remember hearing this when I walked a couple of years ago. I have to write an essay for university on a ritual and I'd like to write on this topic as I have a lot of insider knowledge on it! But I just need to make sure it can be called a ritual, itself. There are a lot of rituals done within the Camino experience, I do realise, and I may mention these as well.
Many thanks!
I met groups of older school children walking ( or jumping and running. lol) from Sarria. Apparently it is something they do during final school year. But I do know for sure.
 

LesR

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2017, 2018; Camino Portuguese 2019
I met with some Spanish students in Sarria who told me that it can be a good thing to have a completed 100km Camino on your resumé/CV. Apparently some employers/universities see the pilgrimage as a positive string to your bow. I thought that was kinda nice. BC.
I have heard the same... may partly explain the very high proportion of young people on the Sarria to SDC leg that I observed...?
 
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David Tallan

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I met with some Spanish students in Sarria who told me that it can be a good thing to have a completed 100km Camino on your resumé/CV. Apparently some employers/universities see the pilgrimage as a positive string to your bow. I thought that was kinda nice. BC.
We also heard that. On the other hand, if everyone in Spain was expected to do the Camino, it wouldn't be that meaningful to include it on your resume.
 
Past OR future Camino
2022
It’s been many, many years since I took my Intro to Anthropology course at uni, but my dusty memory is that a ritual is defined as a ceremony or series of acts which are performed in the same order and manner repeatedly. An example is a funeral service where the same actions and words are repeated each time the service is performed. A wedding ceremony is another example. Sometimes this word is used to describe less formal events, like a bedtime ritual, but the key feature is that it is performed over and over in the same way.

Therefore, I am having trouble seeing how completing a pilgrimage once in a lifetime could be seen as a ritual. By definition, it is not. I see it more as a type of retreat, removing oneself from daily life in order to focus on spiritual or religious matters, or de-stress or whatever. Within a religious pilgrimage, there are rituals, certainly, such as a blessing before departure, or others that other posters have mentioned, but not the pilgrimage itself.

So my advice would be to first be really clear as to the definition of the topic of your paper. Maybe my definition isn’t correct or current, but you should be sure to be on the same page as your class instructor.

My further advice would be to focus narrowly. This is always a good idea in academic writing (which I taught for 25 years). The Camino is a very broad topic; an example of a more narrow yet related one would be to examine the daily Pilgrim’s Mass in Santiago where they read the list of pilgrims and swing the botafumiero. That is unquestionably a ritual, conducted by Spanish clergy, and attended by Spanish and international participants, so perhaps that would satisfy the assignment requirements. Good luck! ¡Buena suerte!
 
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LesR

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2017, 2018; Camino Portuguese 2019
It’s been many, many years since I took my Intro to Anthropology course at uni, but my dusty memory is that a ritual is defined as a ceremony or series of acts which are performed in the same order and manner repeatedly. An example is a funeral service where the same actions and words are repeated each time the service is performed. A wedding ceremony is another example. Sometimes this word is used to describe less formal events, like a bedtime ritual, but the key feature is that it is performed over and over in the same way.

Therefore, I am having trouble seeing how completing a pilgrimage once in a lifetime could be seen as a ritual. By definition, it is not. I see it more as a type of retreat, removing oneself from daily life in order to focus on spiritual or religious matters, or de-stress or whatever. Within a religious pilgrimage, there are rituals, certainly, such as a blessing before departure, or others that other posters have mentioned, but not the pilgrimage itself.

So my advice would be to first be really clear as to the definition of the topic of your paper. Maybe my definition isn’t correct or current, but you should be sure to be on the same page as your class instructor.

My further advice would be to focus narrowly. This is always a good idea in academic writing (which I taught for 25 years). The Camino is a very broad topic; an example of a more narrow yet related one would be to examine the daily Pilgrim’s Mass in Santiago where they read the list of pilgrims and swing the botafumiero. That is unquestionably a ritual, conducted by Spanish clergy, and attended by Spanish and international participants, so perhaps that would satisfy the assignment requirements. Good luck! ¡Buena suerte!
Interesting perspective but ...

For an individual, a funeral could not be considered as a ritual under this 'definition' as most people will have only one funeral... At a societal level, a funeral could reasonably be described as a ritual as it has a fairly common structure, actions and words...

For an individual, a camino similarly could not be considered as a ritual under this 'definition' (except for those fortunate few who manage many caminos in their lifetime)... At a societal level, a camino could reasonably be described as a ritual as it has a fairly common structure, actions and words...

Now - are we any further advanced with this theoretical argument....?
 
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Past OR future Camino
2022
Interesting perspective but ...

For an individual, a funeral could not be considered as a ritual under this 'definition' as most people will have only one funeral... At a societal level, a funeral could reasonably be described as a ritual as it has a fairly common structure, actions and words...

For an individual, a camino simmialrly could not be considered as a ritual under this 'definition' (except for those fortunate few who manage many caminos in their lifetime)... At a societal level, a camino could reasonably be decribed as a ritual as it has a fairly common structure, actions and words...

Now - are we any further advanced with this theoretical argument....?

A funeral or a wedding is a ritual because the institution performs the set of actions and words in the same way every time. The definition applies to whomever performs the ritual, not participants or witnesses.

I understand your point that a Camino has similarities for everyone who undertakes it, and that some do it more than once, but the poster was asking specifically about Spanish people doing it only one time. The similarities are simply loosely traveling to Santiago by different means, with different motives and different starting points. An activity that is commonplace and has some similarities is not a ritual. I don’t think that would fly in an anthropology paper. 🤷‍♀️ Just my two cents.
 

dick bird

Active Member
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As a matter of interest, what exactly was the essay title/assignment?
 
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trecile

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I think that perhaps people are getting too hung up on the word ritual. Maybe @RachelNZ meant something more like "do most Spaniards aspire to walk the Camino as part of their cultural heritage?"
However I still think that the answer is no.
 

Richard Smith

Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2016
Kumano Kodo 2014
Maybe not for all Spanish people but for the peregrinos:- leaving home with simple possessions, getting all the stamps, forming into the travelling groups/camino families, dropping a stone at the Iron Cross, getting a certificate at the end, this sounds like a ritual to me.
And for a uni essay, all the above-mentioned for and against views are excellent. Need to include and discuss both sides if you want a distinction.
 
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Hi fellow pilgrims, Is the Camino a ritual for most Spanish to do at least once in their lifetime? I do remember hearing this when I walked a couple of years ago. I have to write an essay for university on a ritual and I'd like to write on this topic as I have a lot of insider knowledge on it! But I just need to make sure it can be called a ritual, itself. There are a lot of rituals done within the Camino experience, I do realise, and I may mention these as well.
Many thanks!
I have no idea, but let that not stop me from saying something! Opinion is what you invite. My opinion is that it is not. My opinion is based on counting the number of people I know personally who were born on the Iberian Peninsula and who consider it to be something to do in their lifetime. Not quite sound enough to constitute a piece of data!
As to defining ritual, yes, I looked up a range of authoritative reference books. Let the following story speak rather than selecting one or other definition:
Two local worthies were often engaged in discussing verses from Scripture. One could never be bested. One fine day the other found a weak point, and declared that St Paul saw it differently. Undeterred, the retort was: "Well, that's just where me and Paul differs." That is from memory, taken from a wonderful book called Scotland Laughing by WB Burnett. A version from a young friend in Poland: ask any two Polish people what they have to say on a given topic and you will get three opinions.
I hope you will be able to identify clearly the focus of your study and thesis, and wish you Buen Camino with it.
Blame my levity on the fact that it is a bank holiday here in Ireland and I am freed from 'have to do' tasks! so can engage in replying to this post that has aroused such interest!
 
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Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2019
Spain has other holy places, often local, where devotees go on a short pilgrimage. Look up 'romería', for instance Romería del Rocío. Spain has other rituals, like the processions during the Holy Week.
Yes in Spain every region has its "patrón/patrona" . For eample "Virgen de Covadonga" (Asturias), "Virgen del Pilar" (Aragón), "Virgen de la Candelaria" (Canary Islands), etc.
As far as I know only in Andalucia (Virgen del Rocio) and in Navarra (San Francisco Javier) there is pilgrimage by walking or horse.
Also there many local holy places in Spain with short pilgrimages. For example, I did the one to "El Santuario de El Acebo" from Cangas del Narcea (Asturias); 12kms and near 800 mts altitude gain.
The people don´t do the pilgrimage usually for penance. They go either for plea to the patrón/a or for giving thanks.
 

MariaSP

Member
Past OR future Camino
2019
There are approximately 47.15 million Spaniards. If every one of that 47.15 million were to walk the camino just once in their lives, the camino would be a very crowded place. And so far as Spanish culture and society is concerned, you need to look at religious observance in Spain: the vast majority still describe themselves as Catholic, but seminaries are empty and churches are locked up around the clock (not just those in remote areas either). You also need to step back and look at Spanish history and look at the political use that has been made of the Santiago cult over the centuries. For example, the sobriquet 'Matamoros'. If I were Spanish, I don't think I would be all that comfortable if my patron saint were nicknamed 'killer of Moroccans', and a lot of Spanish people aren't at all comfortable with it. More recently, there is the way that Franco made use of the Santiago cult - you can check this in a reliable history of Spain, don't take my word for it. What I am trying to say here is that many Spanish people feel ambivalent about the camino, the Jacobean cult and the Catholic church, and they may have their own good reasons for that. Perhaps it would be a good idea to put this question to some Spanish people. Spain is a complex country.
I'm Spanish and I agree that Spain is a complex country.
The vast majority doesn't describe themselves as Catholic. There are many what we call 'BBC Catholics' (BBC standing for bodas, bautizos y comuniones - weddings, christenings and communions), people who only go to church for social occasions.
More than one third of Spaniards define themselves as atheists/agnostics/non-believers, myself included.

Regarding the Camino, I know lots of Spanish people who have not done the Camino and have no interest in it either, so it's definitely not 'a ritual that most people do at least one in their lifetime'. I've never heard that it's good for your resumé/CV to have walked the Camino. Maybe some employers value it, I don't know. But it's not a general thing. Universities don't care, unless you're applying to a private Catholic university, maybe, which most people don't do.

Growing up in Galicia (not far from Santiago) I was never particularly interested in the Camino. Partly because I saw it as a religious thing, partly because it wasn't that popular, anyway. Then I started meeting people who hadn't done it for religious reasons and I became curious. Then I started meeting all these foreign people travelling from abroad just to walk the Camino and the curiosity was too much. So of course I had to walk 😂
 

Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
I've never heard that it's good for your resumé/CV to have walked the Camino. Maybe some employers value it, I don't know. But it's not a general thing. Universities don't care, unless you're applying to a private Catholic university, maybe, which most people don't do.
But that's not what we believe, @MariaSP 😉. I did a quick forum search for their cv, and easily obtained more than a dozen quotes from forum posts where it is said that having walked to Santiago for Spaniards is good for their CV or that Spanish teenagers do the Camino merely so that they can include it as an item on their CVs, or Spanish kids doing a 100 KM for their CVs.

I've always had my doubts about such claims. Of course, one or the other may put walking to Santiago on their CV, people put reading books, doing a marathon or climbing Kilimanjaro on their CVs ... thanks for correcting this image and for your contributions.
 

dick bird

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
I would add - but please remember this is only my personal opinion! - that I would only ask Spanish people I know well….. and with the utmost care.
Even then, after 50 years, we only now mention certain subjects, very cautiously
and little by little….
I understand what you are saying. Recent history is a sensitive subject for a lot of countries, Spain not the least. I really meant that the OP should ask Spanish people what they thought of the camino and what, if anything, it means to them.
 

Geoff Shepherd

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Why do you keep undermining the positive influence the movie "The Way" has had for a huge majority of us who discovered the Camino because of it? I loved it, even for its entertainment value alone with it's "feel good" qualities, which are often lacking in much of today's films.
Brierley's book and maps were a godsend to me on my first Camino in 2015. I will never diss his efforts to inform newbies and I knew nothing of Camino apps at that time.
Hear hear!!!! Cooee
 
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Pelegrin

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2019
I understand what you are saying. Recent history is a sensitive subject for a lot of countries, Spain not the least. I really meant that the OP should ask Spanish people what they thought of the camino and what, if anything, it means to them.
I am Galician and for me the Camino is important. I have done 800 kms so far on different caminos. I started in 2013 when I was 59 but in 2012 and before I was indifferent to the Camino de Santiago. I think that mine is a good example of many Spaniards doing the Camino.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
When I walked from O Cebreiro into Galicia, I was struck by how green it is. It is very pretty to look at. It reminded me of areas where I grew up and of elsewhere in Europe where I had been before. But I wondered whether this makes Camino walking in Galicia particularly attractive for people from other regions of Spain? I know mainly a bit of the coasts and the islands and a long bus trip from the north to Madrid, and what I see from looking through a window on an aeroplane, and especially in summer the land looks rather arid and ... brown to me. Is this green a particular attraction of the Camino de Santiago in Galicia in the summer? I am so ignorant that I only discovered just now that there is the expression España Verde - Green Spain - for Galicia and the Cantabrian coast.
 
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The Kolbist

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past: Frances, inland Portuguese, Fatima
future: Del Norte, coastal Porugues, Englis
I used to work with Somebody who just came from Spain and now works in the USA. He has never heard of Camino (I'm serious). It was like an American who has never heard of Grand Canyon...
 
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David Tallan

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1989
Therefore, I am having trouble seeing how completing a pilgrimage once in a lifetime could be seen as a ritual.
But your own examples of rituals include many things that are done once in a lifetime (for many people). In the Catholic context, each person is likely to be baptized, confirmed, married once in a lifetime. If it were the case that all Spanish youth travelled to Santiago de Compostela in the spirit of pilgrimage, why would that not qualify as a ritual? As with baptism and marriage, the repetition isn't in a single person's life, but across individuals in the society.

As it happens, I don't believe the Camino is such a ritual in Spain. But it could be.
 

The Kolbist

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past: Frances, inland Portuguese, Fatima
future: Del Norte, coastal Porugues, Englis
Not quite. Maybe if they had not heard of Barcelona. Or the Mezquita in Cordoba. But the Camino is hardly Spain's biggest tourist attraction, no matter what we think of it. 😉
Not in the context of tourism but in the context of how common knowledge should it be amongst its people..
 
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2022
But your own examples of rituals include many things that are done once in a lifetime (for many people). In the Catholic context, each person is likely to be baptized, confirmed, married once in a lifetime.

If it were the case that all Spanish youth travelled to Santiago de Compostela in the spirit of pilgrimage, why would that not qualify as a ritual? As with baptism and marriage, the repetition isn't in a single person's life, but across individuals in the society.

I already responded to this misunderstanding in #49, above, but since obviously I wasn’t clear, I’ll add a few details and maybe that will help.

The Catholic Church has had its representatives perform the same rituals for baptisms, confirmations, and weddings for decades or probably centuries. That a person is a bride only once in her life doesn’t matter. What defines a ritual is that the ceremony is repeated over and over, so your grandmother’s wedding ceremony in the church is the same as her sister’s was and the same as your granddaughter’s will be. It’s the institution of the church that is repeating the ceremony; the participants may change and an individual may take part only one time or maybe never at all. A wedding is a ritual because the church keeps repeating it over and over.

According to the definition that I learned in school, a ritual must have repetition or it isn’t a ritual. You wouldn’t say that you have a bedtime ritual of eating a bowl of ice cream at 11pm if you had only done it one time. But if you do it every night or even frequently, then you could say that, though your waistline might suffer. The number of participants does not change this. If a group of a thousand people all ate a bowl of ice cream at 11pm one time, we would not call that a ritual, either.

I do not want to argue hypotheticals, but the simplest answer to your question is that the definition of a ritual does not refer to individuals across a society performing loosely similar actions, but to an individual or institution repeating the exact or nearly exact same thing over and over. I am sure anthropologists have another term to describe a shared experience like a pilgrimage, perhaps tradition, rite or cultural practice. However, I am pretty certain that it isn’t a ritual, although, as I have already said, parts of it are.
 
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sfdithomas

Member
Past OR future Camino
2015
Hi fellow pilgrims, Is the Camino a ritual for most Spanish to do at least once in their lifetime? I do remember hearing this when I walked a couple of years ago. I have to write an essay for university on a ritual and I'd like to write on this topic as I have a lot of insider knowledge on it! But I just need to make sure it can be called a ritual, itself. There are a lot of rituals done within the Camino experience, I do realise, and I may mention these as well.
Many thanks!
I do think many of them do it but not sure I’d call it a ritual. I think maybe you mean “rite of passage”. I think many Spaniards do it in the off season and/or in stages. I definitely met several Spaniards doing it. Also some schools take school kids out for stages which I have seen along the way. I met a three older Spaniards who had done it multiple times. On the flip side I encountered a woman in Leon who gave me the biggest eye roll and dirty look once she realized I was a pilgrim. Oh well can’t please everyone!
 
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Not in the context of tourism but in the context of how common knowledge should it be amongst its people..

It sounds as if you would find a survey useful here! My anecdotal response, based on conversations and exchanges with Spaniards off the Camino trail (as opposed to those who live in a place with pilgrims passing t hrough) is that its existence is almost universally known, but only rarely much more.

My experience over 11 Caminos and talking in execrable Castilian with Spanish pilgrims is that many of those on the longer trails are more RC-inclined in their pilgrimage -- I have met several who walked it in performance of a vow, or as part of an agreed penance-- but most of those of the shorter stretches are doing it in school or family or friendship groups.

I do not think that the word "ritual" applies very much, if at all, and it would perhaps be as well to lay it aside; perhaps "rite of passage" might work.
 
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rscohen

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances from Le Puy-en-Velay ('10-12) from Montgenevre '14-15) from Vezelay ('18), from Seville 2020
Hi fellow pilgrims, Is the Camino a ritual for most Spanish to do at least once in their lifetime? I do remember hearing this when I walked a couple of years ago. I have to write an essay for university on a ritual and I'd like to write on this topic as I have a lot of insider knowledge on it! But I just need to make sure it can be called a ritual, itself. There are a lot of rituals done within the Camino experience, I do realise, and I may mention these as well.
Many thanks!
My last Camino from Vezelay. I moved laterally near the border to the Norte, then merged with the Primitivo, and finally the Frances. The Frances was crazy busy, with busloads of people being ferried to the trail within the last 100+ kilometers. There were groups of teens, some identifiable as a group, a school, etc. A chaperone told me that doing the Camino was becoming a rite of passage, and that in Spain, employers often ask a prospective employee which Camino they had done.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
it is said that having walked to Santiago for Spaniards is good for their CV or that Spanish teenagers do the Camino merely so that they can include it as an item on their CVs, or Spanish kids doing a 100 KM for their CVs.

... of course, one or the other may put walking to Santiago on their CV, people put reading books, doing a marathon or climbing Kilimanjaro on their CVs ... thanks for correcting this image and for your contributions.

employers often ask a prospective employee which Camino they had done.
I agree with @Kathar1na that the curricula vitae value has been overstated. When young people without much work experience are applying for jobs anywhere in the world, and doing interviews, it is to their advantage to have any hobby, interest, accomplishment, volunteer work, team sport participation, travel, etc. to talk about. Walking the camino is just another one of those experiences, and it only takes a week to accomplish.
 

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