La Castanyada vs Halloween in Barcelona
La Castanyada in Barcelona
La Castanyada, a traditional Catalan celebration, is frequently referred to as the ‘Catalan Halloween’ nowadays; however, historically this holiday serves to not only honour the dead, but also mark the end of summer and beginning of winter.
La Castanyada is closely tied to the Catholic holiday of All Saints’ Day (Dia de Todos Los Santos) on November 1st, when Catholics honour the dead. In Spain, people put flowers on the graves of the loved ones that have passed and attend a church service in their honour. Since this is a national public holiday, most shops will be closed. For those that are interested in knowing more about this day, one can visit the cemetery museum at Montjuïc, a site absolutely worth checking out.
For La Castanyada, the people traditionally ring bells throughout the night of October 31st to honour their dead, a tradition that can be traced back to the Middle Ages. Then, the following day of November 1st, the ‘official’ day of La Castanyada, they would celebrate by eating all sorts of traditional foods, mainly sweets.
The foods consumed can vary by region, but some of the most popular ones in Catalonia include castanyes (roasted chestnuts), roasted sweet potatoes (moniatos), and panellets (marzipan balls, often with pinenuts), which can be found all over the city from October through December. A sweet wine, like Moscatell, often accompanies these sweets.
From the beginning of October you can find ‘castanyeras,’ or chestnut roasters, throughout the city. They grill the chestnuts and sweet potatoes right in front of you, wrap them in newspaper, and serve them steaming hot and delicious! As for the infamous panellets, they come in a wide range of flavors. A few days before the traditional feast, bakeries and cake shops would work full-time to fill their shop windows with enormous amounts of this small but highly demanded treat. Every year, a crazy 250.000 kg of these desserts are sold in patisseries and bakeries!
how to celebrate la Castanyada in Barcelona
Halloween in barcelona
Much like La Castanyada, Halloween, a popular typically American holiday, has its roots in the Christian celebration of All Saints’ Day, when people would go from door to door to receive a “soul cookie,” which supposedly helped people travel to heaven faster; clearly, this is where the hallmark American Halloween tradition of “trick-or-treating” comes from, where kids and parents alike dress up in fun costumes and go from door to door asking for candy on the evening of October 31st.
Additionally, Halloween has origins in the Celtic New Year’s festival, Samhain, which traditionally marked the transition into winter, which the Celts associated with darkness, evil spirits, and death. The traditional colors of Halloween, black and orange, also come from the Celts, with orange being the color of harvest, and black being that of night. Irish immigrants descended from the Celts then brought these traditions to the United States.
Although Halloween was originally a more serious celebration for adults, kids became more and more involved every year, until Halloween finally became the exciting celebration it is known for today – with Halloween in Barcelona becoming increasingly popular every year!
Overall, both Halloween and La Castanyada are quite similar in that they both have something to do with the dead; however, La Castanyada is more about honouring the dead, whereas Halloween takes a slightly less serious twist that simply incorporates lighthearted themes relating to the dead, like ghosts for example. Nevertheless, La Castanyada and Halloween are starting to blend together a bit.
How to Celebrate Halloween in Barcelona
Despite being most popular in America, Halloween nonetheless is making its impact in Barcelona. Some highlights can be found below, but there is plenty to do!
Halloween in Barcelona: haunted places to check out
Being that Barcelona has over 2,000 years of history, it’s no surprise that this Catalan capital has plenty of ghosts and mystery to explore as well. There is certainly no shortage of haunted places.
The Vampiress of Carrer Ponent
Not only are there numerous haunted places throughout Barcelona, but the city is also rich with urban legends. One particularly interesting story is that of “The Vampiress of Carrer Ponent,” or Enriqueta Martí i Ripollés, who in the early 1900’s was suspected of being a vampire who created concoctions from children’s remains. She then sold these to the elite disguised as “miracle cures” for all sorts of ailments, such as tuberculosis, one of the greatest concerns at the time.
In 1912, she was arrested for her involvement in a missing neighborhood girl, and the ensuing search of her home revealed jars of blood, fats, and other odd substances, as well as the hair, clothes, skulls, and bones of children.