The expression and the origin
¡Viva la Pepa! is an expression, used in Spanish, to say that a situation is a mess, a chaos.
For example, if we enter a class and the students are chatting, drinking coffee, eating and dancing, while they should be studying, the teacher can say ¡viva la Pepa!
We also use this expression to say that a person is lazy and to refer to someone who does not like to work and who’s not worried about the future, but just focuses on having a good time:
-¡este chico es un viva la Pepa! (this boy is a lazybones)
The origin of this expression goes back to the 19th century. In 1812, in Cádiz, a city in the south of Spain, it was approved a liberal constitution against absolutism.
The Constitution was approved on March 19, the day of San José. In Spain, men who are called José, are nicknamed Pepe, hence the Constitution was popularly known as La Pepa.
It was a liberal constitution, since it established that sovereignty resided in the nation and not in the king. Plus, according to this constitution, the freedom of expression and the freedom of the press were separated. It also established Spanish citizenship for all those born in American territories. Indirect universal suffrage was established for men: unfortunately, women did not even have the right to citizenship.
The cry of ¡viva la Pepa! was the cry with which the liberals adhered to the Constitution of Cádiz.