The Dia de todos los Santos, All Saints´ Day, is celebrated each year on November 1st. This Spain death celebration consists of people visiting the cementeries to take flowers to their dead relatives.
“Nadie más muerto que el olvidado”
(One is not dead until forgotten)
Every year on November 1st, Spain celebrates a ritual holiday of remembrance and honor of their deceased relatives known as Dia de Todos los Santos (All Saints' Day). Observed nationwide, many families, especially those of the older generations who are more akin to following traditions, gather in the cemeteries to regale their deceased loved ones with a visit as a reminder that they are not forgotten. Some even visit a few days prior to November 1st to clean the graves and have them ready for the big day.
The traditional thing to do on November 1st is to purchase flowers, especially chrysanthemums and present them as gifts to their loved ones. It is the day of the year when the most flowers are sold, and the cemeteries are filled with colour from every type of flower imaginable. A beautiful sight to see, indeed! Churches also hold mass in memories of those deceased to supposedly shorten their time spent in purgatory.
Despite the feeling of sadness one would think should pertain to Dia de Todos los Santos, this day is not just about mourning the loss of loved ones. It is also a day to celebrate life. Popular activities for such purpose are eating traditional sweets (more on that below) and participating in family-friendly activities such as going to see José Zorilla's 1844 play “Don Juan Tenorio”, traditionally staged in theatres across the countryTodos los Santos and the character of the play is closely related to the dead).
Another activity, one especially popular in the north of Spain, is to head out to the streets or the countryside for a traditional “castañada”. The castañada consists of townsfolk gathering for a n outside get-together and keep warm by eating the “castañas” (chestnuts) that someone roasts and sells in the most traditional of ways: in a small bonfire or using a modern grill.
However, Dia de Todos los Santos can best be defined as the day in which almost all of Spain enjoys eating the mouthwatering delicacies known as “Buñuelos de Viento” (wind fritters) and “Huesos de Santo” (Saint's Bones); with the exception of Catalunya, the Valencian Community and the Balearic Islands, who opt to savor the Catalan pastries of “Panellets”. It is common to see long lines outside of Spanish bakeries as everyone wanst to take home a kilo or two of sweet yummies.
Buñuelos de Viento
No one knows exactly when these sweetened dough fritters, which are usually filled with cream, chocolate, pudding and anything else, began to be elaborated. But given that the Royal chef of Spanish king Felipe II made some references to this pastry in some of his recipes towards the beginning of the XVII century, has raised them to be one of the traditional culinary desserts to celebrate Dia de Todos los Santos, as tradition states that when you eat a buñuelo, a soul is released from purgatory.
Huesos de Santo
These oddly named sweets, which are made of marzipan dough rolled into thick thumb-size tubes, do not actually resemble a bone in shape, so do not fret over its unappealing name. Its name derives from the final coloring it acquires after its baked in a syrup covering: a bone-like beige hue. Huesos de Santo were also traditionally filled with a sweet egg yolk concoction, but nowadays are elaborated with all types of filling (from chocolate to coconut shavings to marmalade, banana, etc) to being sold in an assortment of colors that hint away at its flavor.
These typical Catalan sweets, made from almonds, potato, sugar and pine nuts are absolutely delicious! You'll see them in the baker's shops days before El Día de Todos los Santos and are best enjoyed with a good bottle of muscatel wine!