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La Castanyada

Halloween isn’t the only tradition taking place this time of the year dedicated to the dead.

In Catalunya, as in many other cultures, we celebrate La Diada de Tots Sants (or All Saints’ Day) every year on 1st November. It is common for people to spend this day with their families and remember those who passed away, often visiting the cemetery. But… a tradition isn’t really a tradition if food isn’t involved, is it?

La Castanyada, a tradition that goes back three centuries

On this date, people get together for what we call “La Castanyada”. This tradition consists of a meal of roasted chestnuts, baked sweet potato, candied fruit and small round cakes called Panellets.

Roasted Chestnuts. Image credit: https://www.alleventshotels.com

Catalans have been celebrating La Castanyada for a long time. This ritual dates from back in the 18th century, and it started as a funeral meal that symbolised the communion with the souls of the departed. The living relatives would pray for the deceased as chestnuts were being roasted. Nowadays, however, this meal is often accompanied with Catalan sweet wine Moscatel.

Panellets and Moscatel sweet wine.

Panellets and Moscatel sweet wine. Image credit: https://www.tresc.cat

This tradition gets its name from the old figure of La Castanyera, a chestnut street vendor. The image of La Castanyera’s usually an old lady dressed in peasant’s clothes and wearing a headscarf. Locals can often find her roasting and selling chestnuts behind a table in the cold streets of the towns and villages during the autumn and winter months.

Old image of la Castanyera selling chestnuts.

Castanyera selling chestnuts. Image credit: https://twitter.com/bcndesapareguda

Next time you’re visiting Catalunya in autumn, remember to buy some warm chestnuts from the old Castanyera. We also suggest you go for glass of Moscatel and Panellets for a genuine experience.

If you can’t be in Catalunya this time of year, we’ve got some Panellets hiding at Tast for you. We serve our autumnal cocktail Panellets Sazerac with one of these delicious sweets inside. Also, only for next week, Paco Pérez is bringing his special recipes of Panellets, which we will serve from 31st October to 4th November. If you’re visiting us next and try one let us know what you think of them!