Posted by: janecronin | February 11, 2012

País de pandereta – Spanish sayings

Pandereta means “tambourine” of the sort my children used to carry when dressed in their traditional costumes in our village fiestas.  They would chant the local folk songs and bang on the “panderetas” with strident voices.  A while ago I heard the expression:  “España es un país de pandereta” spoken by someone on a radio phone-in programme.

The gentleman concerned was a pensioner who said that a few days previously his pensioners club had been raided by police for playing “illegal” bingo.  Each pensioner had paid 10 cents per card and there was a kitty of 22 euros.  The police confiscated the bingo set and kitty, and took the names and identity numbers of all the pensioners.  I can just imagine the scene, can’t you?

His conclusion to the story was to complain that Spain is “un país de pandereta” – in other words a country not to be taken seriously on the international stage, or words to that effect!


  1. Hi,

    How would you translate “pais de pandereta” in English?


    • Hi Fernando,

      I don’t think there is a direct translation. “A frivolous country” or “a backward-looking country” might do it, but there´s no obvious answer. Have you got any suggestions? Jane

      • Hi Jane,

        I am not sure. Actually, I am trying to translate “ambiente de pandereta” and for now I have it as “cheesy atmosphere”. In this case it may not be the same meaning for “pandereta” because it refers to some other feelings the author has. This is how it looks now: “What discouraged me the most was the artificial cheerfulness lingering everywhere, and the cheesy atmosphere that so effortlessly legitimized the low expectations transpiring…”

        I will keep looking, or better yet, ask the author.


      • Tough one – it might need a completely different approach like “all bull-fighting and flamenco” – it really depends on the context!

      • I am going to go with “the cheesy fiesta atmosphere” 🙂

      • I like it!!

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