La Castanyada is the Catalan tradition celebrated on the 31st fo October. It is celebrated in the home and community by singing traditional songs (lots of them about chestnuts), eating roasted chestnuts
(around these days, it is very common for street vendors to sell hot toasted chestnuts wrapped in newspaper) or other food made out of chestnuts, panellets (special biscuits, in the picture below), roast or baked sweet potatoes, and preserved fruit (candied or glazed fruit), typically with moscatell wine to drink.
It is also typical in many schools to prepare traditional dances and cook panellets or other chestnut recipes.
It seems that the tradition of eating these foods comes from the fact that during All Saints’ night, on the eve of All Souls’ Day in the Christian tradition, bell ringers
would ring bells in commemoration of the dead into the early morning.
Friends and relatives would help with this task, and everyone would eat
these foods for sustenance.
Other versions of the story state that the Castanyada originates at
the end of the 18th century and comes from the old funeral meals, where
other foods, such as vegetables and dried fruit, were not served. The meal had the symbolic significance of a communion with the souls of the departed: while the chestnuts were roasting, prayers would be said for the person who had just died.
The festival is usually depicted with the figure of a castanyera: an old lady, dressed in peasant’s clothing and wearing a headscarf, sitting behind a table, roasting chestnuts for street sale. One of the most typical songs from this festivity describes her: listen to it here.
She is sometimes accompanied by a cat called Marrameu Torracastanyes. He’s the protagonist of another of the most famous Castanyada songs, but this one is a bit more… tragic? See our post about it here.
Frank last night at his acoustic set in Kingston. I wanted to film more but, due to where I was standing and how high I had to raise my arm, my arm went pretty much completely dead…. It was such an amazing gig though!
On a side not, I wonder how long it will take for the presenter to realise that he’s pronouncing Frank’s surname incorrectly as we were all screaming it but he didn’t seem to understand
I send in my demand notes with the brutal regularity of the income-tax commissioners; and probably you say when you see the envelopes, ‘Oh, God! I know what this is.’ The only difference is that, some time or other, one has to take notice of the income-tax.
Will you marry me?—It’s beginning to look like one of those lines in a farce—merely boring till it’s said often enough; and after that, you get a bigger laugh every time it comes.
I should like to write you the kind of words that burn the paper they are written on—but words like that have a way of being not only unforgettable but unforgivable. You will burn the paper in any case; and I would rather there should be nothing in it that you cannot forget if you want to.
Well, that’s over. Don’t worry about it.
My nephew (whom you seem, by the way, to have stimulated to the most extraordinary diligence) is cheering my exile by dark hints that you are involved in some disagreeable and dangerous job of work at Oxford about which he is in honor bound to say nothing. I hope he is mistaken. But I know that, if you have put anything in hand, disagreeableness and danger will not turn you back, and God forbid they should. Whatever it is, you have my best wishes for it.
I am not my own master at the moment, and do not know where I shall be sent next or when I shall be back—soon, I trust. In the meantime may I hope to hear from time to time that all is well with you?
Yours, more than my own,
–Dorothy L. Sayers, Gaudy Night, Chapter XI, 1935.
In this photo from Peace Corps Education Volunteer Alyssa Gaalema, family members pay homage to their departed loved ones with candles, singing and prayer on All Saints Night at the Grenada National Cemetery in St. Georges, the capital. Candlelight flowed down the hillside in a peaceful, incandescent glow.
And Shepherds we shall be For thee, my Lord, for thee. Power hath descended forth from Thy hand That our feet may swiftly carry out Thy commands. So we shall flow a river forth to Thee And teeming with souls shall it ever be.
To all of my followers, I wish thee a merry Samhain! Be polite to the spirits that cross your path on this day when the Veil between the waking and the sleeping worlds are thinnest and be sure to share of your candied spoils!
Most importantly, be kind to the animals that cross your path, for not only do many spirits manifest in such ways, but one of them might be my brother, and he will curse you indeed for your cruelty.
Be safe on this day, and may your treats outnumber the tricks!