Time for a word that, as far as I know, has no English equivalent and it’s actually quite difficult to explain succintly.
A puente is a bridge, literally. But its second use is a bit metaphorical. It refers to a holiday that falls close to a weekend. For example, on a Thursday. Then, a virtual bridge gaps over Friday linking the holiday and the weekend. You refer to the whole period as a puente:
¿Haces algo este puente?
Are you doing anything this weekend?
El puente nos vamos a Segovia.
This weekend we are going to Segovia.
Of course, by default you have to work on Friday, unless your company is really cool, or you are skipping classes – but often you try to take the day off. There’s a verb to indicate you actually are free that day, hacer puente:
¿Vosotros hacéis puente el viernes?
Do you have to work on Friday?
Tengo días de vacaciones sin gastar, así que como el jueves es festivo, voy a hacer puente.
I have some unspent days off, so since Thursday is a holiday, I’m taking a long weekend.
Remember that even though I’m using a Thursday-Friday puente as example, this same thing applies to a Monday-Tuesday situation.
Furthermore, this meaning has been expanded, and even if the actual holiday is a Monday or Friday (so, not metaphorical bridge, just a continuous long weekend), you can refer to it as a puente:
Navidad cae en lunes este año, así que aprovecharemos para ir el puente a esquiar.
Christmas Day falls on Monday this year, so we’re going skiing that weekend.
Finally, I must mention the biggest puente in Spain, the one we most look forward every year: el puente de la Constitución.
We celebrate Constitution Day every 8th of December (it’s the anniversary of the signing of the actual Constitution in 1978). Just two days before, 6th of December, is the Inmaculate Conception, a religious holiday. I don’t know what is actually celebrated that day – nobody does, nobody cares. But we *do* know something: having two holidays so close together means that, whenever they might fall, that week there is always a puente. And if they happen to be Tuesday and Thursday, we get a superpuente! A bit of planning, some days off, and you could be away for the whole week!
Puentes are a concept we Spaniards love to talk about every month 🙂
Necesito vacaciones, ¿cuándo es el próximo puente?
I need a vacation, when is the next long weekend?
Originally published in Talk like a Spaniard.