As Novemb er 5th draws closer, everyone in England is getting ready for fireworks and bonfires for Guy Fawkes Night. But what’s going on in November across the pond in sunny Spain?
Well, you may not know that the 1st of November is actually a very important holiday in Spain.
The Spanish consider themselves lucky in having two birthdays: the normal birthday that celebrates the day they were born and the second “birthday” that celebrates the birthday of their patron saint, the saint after whom they were named.
However every year on the 1st of November, there is a holiday called All Saints day. This public holiday centres on remembering departed family members. This is a very significant day in Spain. On this day, people from all over the country return to the town where they were born to lay flowers on the graves of their relatives.
There are few religious holidays that have this much meaning to such a number of people in Spain.
This might sound somber but many countries have a day to remember the dead. In fact, tomorrow, the 2nd of November, the same holiday is celebrated in Mexico. They call it the Day of the Dead. There is also All Souls day, in Poland.
The people that participate in these traditions don’t see the day as sad or solemn. They see it as a way to see their family. They don’t despair in their loved one’s death but they celebrate their life. This holiday ensures that our loved ones always stay in our hearts and minds.
So what happens every year on the 1st November?
The main thing people do is go back home, get flowers and lay them on their relatives’ graves. On this day, c3emetaries are full of people and roads to cemeteries are filled with traffic. Churches also hold special masses to commemorate the deceased.
Another activity, especially popular in the north of Spain, is to head out to the streets or the countryside for a traditional castañada, in which friends and family together to eat castañas (chestnuts). The nuts are roasted either traditionally, in small campfire, or in a more modern way, on a portable grill.
As every holiday in Spain, there are traditional sweets that are eaten.
Buñuelos de viento (nun´s puffs) is a fried pastry filled with whipped cream, chocolate or other cream. Legend has it that by eating nun´s puffs a soul in Purgatory is saved.
Huesos de santo (saint´s bones) are made of marzipan in the shape of small tubes filled with a various kinds of filling. Its name is due to the beige colour that acquire after being cooked in syrup.
Panellets is a catalán dessert of almonds, potato and pine nuts that we can buy in this region a few days before All Saints ‘Day.