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 All Saints Day in Spain

    work done by St. Paul's School, Barcelona

This festival revolves around the same tradition of remembering the dead. It is not surprising that we remember the dead in Autumn, when nature dies little by little and prepares for winter.

There are many traditions connected with this time of year : from literary references (D. Juan Tenorio by José Zorilla; El Estudiante de Salamanca by José de Espronceda...) to purely gastronomic ones which brings us to the pleasant aspect of this time of year in Spain, the celebration of "La Castañada".

In olden days, "la castañada" was celebrated after the family evening meal, and brings back memories of the ancient funeral meals. After the usual family supper chestnuts were roasted in the open hearth, "panellets"(small, tasty almond cakes) and other sweet titbits were eaten, and accompanied by a sweet, white wine. The chestnuts were roasted and placed on the table where everyone was able to eat their fill.

This custom of eating chestnuts (which is the typical seasonal fruit together with dried fruits such as almonds, hazel nuts...), goes hand-in-hand with eating sweet potato el boniato. Together they lead us on to the appearance of one of the most lively and important characters at this time : the chestnut seller "la castañera". Here is Spain many stories are told about "Maria, la castañera".

Here are some photos taken in St. Paul's School, Barcelona, Spain, when the children were celebrating this festival at school.

The first two photos are of "Maria, la castañera", one a model made by the pupils and the other of a student dressed up as Maria.

There are many other characters related to ancient traditions regarding "la castañada" in Catalonia. If anyone would like to know more there is a really good reference book (in Catalan !) : AMADES, Joan : "Costumari Català" VulumV, Salvat Editores, S.A. Barcelona 1985.

The "panellets" are a type of small cake that Godfathers offered to their Godchildren, in the same way that at Easter they offer the traditional Easter cake "la mona". The "panellets" are supposedly a leftover from the days when offerings were placed in the graves with the dead. Rarely the cakes were bought in the shops, they were usually home-made or acquired at one of the many small sta