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Halloween has now conquered the whole world. It is celebrated everywhere, many times without even knowing its origins and its history. Instead, I like to know in depth.
I always ask myself a lot of questions, especially on the traditions that I’m meeting in my travels. That’s why in this article I want to tell you how to celebrate the Dia de los Muertos in Spain, or rather, in Catalonia. Of course, maybe it’s not such a scenic feast like in Mexico. But it is certainly a very important event for the people.
If you are in Barcelona for Day of the Dead, here’s what you absolutely must taste!
Dia de los Muertos in Spain
Many cultures around the world associate death with the period between the end of October and the first days of November. This is the moment when the sun begins to be seen less, the days last less and the night is the main character. Now we begin to go towards the cold and dark winter.
In Spain, the Commemoration of the Dead is celebrated on November 1, the day of all Saints. Many families eat together and remember their loved ones. An opportunity to meet, eat and spend time together and at the same time carry on the memory of family members who are no longer there.
It’s tradition to take flowers (Chrysanthemums) and bring them as a gift to the dead on their grave. Despite being a rather sad event there is also space to celebrate life.
Catalan traditions for the Los Dias de los Muertos in Barcelona
Spanish people do not miss an opportunity to eat. Each party brings with it a culinary tradition. In this period of early November, the Catalan tradition wants three specialties that start the winter: chestnuts, sweet potatoes and panellets.
In these days, walking through the streets of Barcelona, I immediately noticed new presences. Well, let’s say they follow me a little everywhere since even in my Sicily. Now it’s times they can show. I’m talking about chestnut sellers!
In fact, I discovered that here in Catalonia it is tradition to make a Castanyada (“Feast of Chestnuts”). And so, on the streets of Barcelona it is easy to meet steaming emplacements pf peddlers that emit that typical autumn smell.
Curiosity: It seems that all Galician women are those who here prepare the newspaper triangles with a pile of roasted and steaming chestnuts that every passerby takes to the street.
Roasted sweet potatoes
But chestnuts are not the only protagonists. They have to share this day with another delicacy that I tasted especially for the occasion: roasted sweet potatoes. I had never tasted them like this. Instead of the usual portion of fries, I lost myself in the alleys of the Gothic Quarter with a small bag of sweet and steaming potatoes.
Panellets, the desserts of All Saints
If you can say, they are the real protagonists of the feast of Todos los Santos. They are typical sweets of Catalunya that are prepared for this occasion. Panellets, in Catalan “little bread”, are small marzipan balls covered with pine nuts.
Their history is interesting because they date back to the eighteenth century and were a real means of sharing and union. Which nowadays would serve much more than a “share on facebook” button. However, I said, they were sweets prepared to be exchanged at the end of religious celebrations.
In fact, in the past it was celebrated by following different masses and celebrations during the day and night. Night that was punctuated by the bells that rang non-stop. People then entertained themselves among the various activities exchanging these sweets. And then they were also given away to the deceased loved ones.
If you are in Barcelona or Catalonia in November, you can not miss these specialties.
I almost forgot! This very special day has its own wine of exception: Moscato!