World Tapas Day, observed annually on the third Thursday of June, is an international holiday celebrating the small Spanish Tapa dish that is usually served with drinks. This year, it falls on June 15. Tapas may be served cold (such as in mixed olives and cheese) or hot. In some bars and restaurants in Spain, South America, Mexico, the United States, and a few other regions across the globe, tapas have evolved into a more sophisticated cuisine than one that is mundanely served with drinks. It can now be served as a full meal if desired. In some Central American countries, tapa snacks are known as ‘bocas,’ and in some parts of Mexico, it is referred to as ‘botanas.’
History of World Tapas Day
The word ‘tapas’ is derived from the Spanish verb ‘tapar,’ which means ‘to cover,’ a variation of the English word ‘top.’ In Spain, before the 19th century, tapas were served in posadas, albergues, or bodegas, which offered meals and rooms to travelers. Because few innkeepers and travelers could read and write, samples of the dishes were made available by innkeepers on a ‘tapa,’ which is a Spanish word for ‘pot cover.’
According to the book “The Joy of Cooking,” the first tapas were thin slices of bread or meat which sherry drinkers used to cover their glasses between sips to prevent fruit flies from hovering over their drink. The meat was normally ham or chorizo, both of which are very salty and activate thirst. This made bartenders and restaurant owners create a variety of snacks to serve with sherry, invariably increasing their alcohol sales. The tapas eventually became as important as the sherry. Tapas have evolved through Spanish history with new ingredients and influences.
The discovery and emergence of the New World birthed the introduction of tomatoes, sweet and chili peppers, which were readily accepted and grown in Spain’s microclimates, further contributing to the culture of tapas as we know it today. Since 2008, the city of Valladolid in Spain and the International School of Culinary Arts have celebrated the International Tapas Competition for Culinary Schools — an annual competition in Spain between global culinary schools to compete for the best tapa concept.
World Tapas Day timeline
Tapas are mostly served as snacks or parts of dishes offered to travelers by innkeepers until the 19th century.
The book “The Joy of Cooking” is published.
An international competition of tapa concepts between global culinary schools begins in the city of Valladolid, Spain.
The holiday, World Tapas Day, is created.
World Tapas Day FAQs
What is the tradition of tapas?
The tradition of tapas dates back to when King Alfonso X of Castile recovered from an illness by drinking wine with small snacks between meals. After regaining his health, Alfonso issued an order prohibiting taverns from serving wine to clients unless it was accompanied by a small snack or “tapa.”
Why are tapas so important to the Spanish culture?
Tapas are important to the Spanish culture as they combine good food with family (or friends) time. This culture has spread throughout the world and become a popular way to put a twist on tradition.
Are tapas expensive?
Tapa prices vary based on size, ingredients used, and the type of bar serving them. While some can be really expensive, others are cheap or even free.
World Tapas Day Activities
Eat some tapas
What better way to celebrate World Tapas day than to eat some tapas? Either as part of a meal or as a full dish, be sure to share your delicious Spanish dish with your friends and family.
Visit a Spanish/Mexican-themed bar
In Spain, South America, Central America, and parts of North America, visiting local bars is part of the tapa culture. But make sure you’re at the legal age to do so.
Share your experience on social media
Whatever your experience is on World Tapas Day, preparing and eating it, or going for a few drinks with friends, be sure to share the fun on social media with the hashtag #WorldTapasDay. It’s a great way to participate!
5 Interesting Facts About Tapas
Tapas are finger food
Tapas aren’t the kinds of dishes you eat with traditional cutlery or utensils; they are eaten with your fingers.
The word ‘tapas’ means ‘lid’
‘Tapas’ is of Spanish origin and literally translates to ‘lid.’
Tapas are served with alcohol
Tapas are usually served with alcoholic beverages, hence their popularity in bars.
Some bars offer free tapas
If you’re in the right bar at the right time, you might get a free tapa.
There’s a verb for eating tapas
Spanish linguists have created a verb for eating tapas, which is ‘tapear’ meaning ‘to eat tapas.’
Why We Love World Tapas Day
Tapas are healthy
Tapas can be served as purely vegetables or spices. Both are beneficial to the human body.
Tapas are versatile
Tapas can either be eaten as a meal or in between meals. There are various recipes too!
A good way to socialize
Tapas are typically served at bars with alcoholic beverages. This makes them a good way to socialize.
World Tapas Day dates