Nadie más muerto que el olvidado
– Gregorio Marañón
(Nobody deader than the forgotten)
Every year on November 1st, Spain and other countries around the world celebrate a holiday of remembrance in honor of their deceased relatives and friends.
This holiday is known as Día de Todos los Santos (All Saints' Day).
Observed nationwide, many families, especially those of the older generations, gather in the cemeteries bearing bouquets of fresh flowers to visit their departed loved ones and keep their memory alive.
The traditional thing to do on November 1st is to purchase flowers and take them to decorate your loved ones’ graves. You can see one of these traditional scenes in the movie Volver
by Pedro Almodóvar. Churches also hold special masses in memory of all the people who have passed away and the cemeteries are filled with color from every type of flower imaginable. In fact, this is the day of the year when the most flowers are sold
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.
TRADITIONAL SWEET TREATS FOR DÍA DE TODOS LOS SANTOS
All Saints’ Day is the best time to eat special treats like bueñuelos de viento
(wind fritters), huesos de santo
(saint’s bones), and panellets
(a Catalan pastry).
Buñuelos de viento
These dough fritters are filled with custard, chocolate, cream, or whatever your heart desires. No one knows exactly when this treat was invented, but we know it dates at least back to the 1600s because King Phillip II’s cook made some references to it. Legend has it that when you eat a buñuelo
, a soul is released from purgatory. This has made eating buñuelos
a popular custom on All Saints’ Day.
Huesos de santo
Saint’s bones are made of marzipan rolled into finger-sized tubes. They don’t really look like bones, so don’t worry about the name. The name comes from the final coloring it acquires after being baked and covered in syrup: a bone-like beige hue. Huesos de santo
are also traditionally filled with a sweet egg yolk concoction, but nowadays you can get all different types of filling, from chocolate to coconut shavings to marmalade, banana, etc.).
These are typical treats in Catalonia. Panellets
are made of almonds, potatoes, sugar, and pine nuts. They’re sold in pastry shops and bakeries in the days leading up to Día de Todos los Santos and are often enjoyed together with a bottle of muscatel wine.