The Castanyada, a chestnuts Catalan tradition

Chestnut seller being stalked by a pumpkin.

Many cultures celebrate All Saints’ Day in many different ways. It was in year 609 or 610 that it was celebrated for the first time and in 835 they chose the 1st of November as the official date for it.

According to the legend, on the 2nd of November, All Souls’ Day, the souls of the death go back to their home for some hours. People used to fire candles and bonfires to guide them back to heaven.

In the past they also used to ring bells all the night and bell ringers ate roasted chestnuts to regain strength and keep warm. The Castanyada ― a Catalan tradition about castanyes, which means chestnuts ― comes from there. These days you can see chestnuts sellers in the streets, that is women dressed with old clothes and a handkerchief on the head roasting chestnuts and sweet potatoes.

Panallets are also typical in Catalonia since the 18th century. Their origin is unknown, but they might be an Arab legacy. They are small marzipan baked goods, commonly covered with pine kernels. Chestnuts, sweet potatoes and panellets are eaten with muscatel the night of the 31st of October.

This is the Catalan tradition, lately eclipsed by Halloween. It’s sad to see your traditions extinguishing because getting dressed up as a whore style witch (because no disguise looks like the old, ugly ones) and see horror movies is funnier than tying a handkerchief on your head and singing traditional songs around the warm bonfire.

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2 thoughts on “The Castanyada, a chestnuts Catalan tradition

  1. Pingback: Breath test « Either a linguist or a chemist be

  2. Pingback: A Pole and the Three Wise Men | Either a linguist or a chemist be

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