La Castanyada: the international chestnut festival

This traditional and popular festival, deeply rooted in Catalonia, is celebrated on All Saints’ Day (1 November), but also the day before (31 October).

The tradition of this festival is to eat chestnuts. Chestnuts are traditionally eaten on the day before and the day of Castanyada, but they can be found at street vendors in Barcelona at any time in late October.

What is it?

Chestnuts are roasted chestnuts on charcoal grills and often sold wrapped in newspaper, perfect for warming company when it is cold in Barcelona. Panellets are also very common in Barcelona at this time of year. They can be described as small almond-flavoured balls covered with pine nuts. These snacks are served in coconut, lemon or chocolate flavours. They are beautiful and traditional, and you can find them mainly in local bakeries. If you visit Barcelona during this period, this is a must-have dessert, which can also be used as a souvenir!

If you have a salty palate, you can also find sweet potatoes during the Castanyada. These little delicacies will warm you up from the inside out, often accompanied by a glass of sweet traditional muscatel wine.

chestnut, autumn, october, november, eating, food street, barcelona

Where does this festival come from?

Castanyada is a pagan tradition – like Magosto in Galicia or Asturias or Halloween in the Anglo-Saxon countries – whose origins date back to the 18th century. There are several legends that explain these beginnings. It is said that before All Saints’ Day, families gathered to watch over their dead. In order to survive, they stocked up on the first fruits of autumn, mainly chestnuts, legumes and sweet potatoes washed down with sweet wine (today’s Muscat). This custom gave rise to the emblematic figure of the “castanyera”, who prayed while the chestnuts were roasting.

Another theory is that the festival was for bell ringers, who rang the bells all night to remind the faithful of the need to pray for the souls of their dead. Whenever they rested, they regained their strength by eating what people brought them, in this case the fruits of autumn.

How is it celebrated?

Although most festivities in Catalonia include wild street parties, dancing, costumes and fireworks. The castanyada is more of a quiet celebration, with most families going to the cemetery to lay flowers and then spend time with their loved ones. If you are in Barcelona during this festival, do as the locals do and visit one of the city’s most beautiful cemeteries, the Poblenou Cemetery.

cemetery, visit, poblenou, Barcelona

Don’t let the routine stops you, start pedaling also during October

October 1st, 2018

Photo by Pexels

October is right here, and with it the last remains of summer are gone. But don’t be sad, you can ride your bicycle also during the autumn, specially in a city like Barcelona.

For us, the return to the routine is an opportunity. The opportunity of carry out with all the good challenges that we have formulated when we were inspired by the calm and the good vibes of the summer holidays. And, a good challenge that could be nice for everyone? Using more the bicycle.

During your daily, the bicycle could be a key element for improving yours and everybody’s mobility, improving, at the same time, your physical and mental health.

But, using a bicycle during your daily for going to work, to shopping or for other errands is not the only interesting use of your bike. It could be also interesting to use it during weekends. The vacation time don’t need to finish yet, you could do excursions with the family, friends or alone through close places. Because, a lot of times, we leave getting to know these close places for late, when they could be so incredible as a lot of exotic destinies, which make us save money during all year.

So, now you know, this autumn, note to practice a little bit more of local tourism by bicycle down your challenge list. For sure you will be able to discover a lot of treasures in Barcelona!