La Castanyada is a festival that the people of Catalunya celebrates to remember the love ones lost. It is not like the other festivals that Barcelona has each year with a lot of people, noise and party! This is more a family festival. Families go to the cemeteries putting flowers on the graves of their lost ones. Have dinner at home with a lot of food, especially, “castanyes” (chestnuts), “moniatos (sweet potato), “panellets” (delicious dessert of marzipan and pine nuts) are eaten during La Castanya and a glass or two of “muscatel” (a sweet wine).
The food is an old tradition that has two different stories. One is during a time when the people of catalunya rang bells during the night before All Saints day in memory of the lost ones. This was a task that took a lot of effort and the bell ringers needed something to gain energy from so that they could ring the bells the whole night. So families and friends gathered around to roast castanyes and moniatos for the bell ringers and as a dessert they would get panellets, which’s contains a lot of sugar. With the food they drank muscatel and from this they got a lot of energy so that they could ring the bells the whole night.
The other version is that people in Catalunya eats castanyes, moniatos, panellets and drank muscatel as funeral meals. This tradition goes back to the 18th century. The meals had a symbolic meaning in memorising the lost ones souls. During the prayers the chestnuts were roasted.
Now-a-days during the last of October to around February one can smell the roasting castanyes and moniatos in the air of Barcelona. There are a lot of corner stalls especially near La Ramblas but also in other places who sells castanyes and moniatos. Eat it with some sips of muscatel and you will have a simple but fantastic gastronomy experience from La Castanyada.
You will get the castanyes in wrapped newspapers for around 2.50€ while the moniatos are about 4€, but it depends from place to place. The panellets can you also find everywhere but the best ones will you get from bakeries, in different tastes.
The representing figure of La Castanyada is an eldery woman with ragged clothes and a headscarf who sits near a stove roasting chestnuts on the streets.
This festival is all about family, eat with your friends and family at home or find a corner stall and stand in line to get some castanyes or moniatos to keep your hands warm during the chill November days!