A tradition unnoticed by many, but so very important both in Valencian and Spanish culture. ‘Salir a la fresca’ literally translates to ‘leaving to the fresh’, meaning grabbing some fresh air for us normal folk.

It’s a tradition that involves sitting in the street outside your house with friends and family chatting into the night. On those super hot Mediterranean days, it’s one of the best things to do, especially when your house overheats.

You can see children playing with neighbours and friends from the area and older people sitting in the doorways of their houses, watching the world go by.

Summer is a time for fun, to travel, it is a time to be enjoyed. However, when it gets so hot (which it does in Valencia), it’s difficult to leave town. Thus this tradition has become a ritual and a sociable moment in the day for the average Valencian.

But what’s the origin behind the phrase ‘salir a la fresca’?

It is said that the elderly emptied water in front of their houses in order to freshen and alleviate the heat given off by the pavements, hence the allusion to ´fresh´.

In addition, people have always looked for the most ventilated and therefore ‘fresh’ places, usually in a shady corner, to cool off from the suffocating heat of the summer months, and the shady sections between rows of houses often is the best place for it.

Gossip is the main attraction. When the older people are talking together in little groups, it is likely that they’re bitching… probably about you. Secrets and neighbourhood gossip is thrown around, as rumours spread through the community.

You can’t underestimate the importance of the chair.

Traditional wicker chairs have recently given way to plastic chairs. Chairs aren’t merely a place to sit, they become positions of authority, your standing in the community, as the user dines and gossips into the night, whilst their grandchildren play around them.

This tradition is unfortunately dwindling, giving way to the world of technology and social networks, and of course improved air conditioning units. Let’s try to preserve this conversation between neighbours, good habits shouldn’t die.

Tell us, what do you think about this Valencian tradition?