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Autumn has finally arrived in Sitges and we are looking forward to it. The trees bring out their orange, red and brown tonality so characteristic of autumn… And they return, in addition, the own ingredients of this time of the year: mushrooms, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, chestnuts, etc. October is also the month of Halloween. But here in Catalonia we have a festival of our own culture: the traditional "Castanyada".
Despite being a season characterized by a logical drop in temperatures, we won't be fooled: in Sitges we love to boast about the microclimate and our more than 300 days of sunshine a year. The Garraf mountain protects the city and makes the temperatures drop but not so much that we have to stay at home under a blanket (although it would not be such a bad option).
Cold or not, the Castanyada and Halloween are two of the most characteristic celebrations of autumn. And you, which of the two do you prefer? In this post we explain the origin of both festivities and recommend some plans if you have decided to spend the autumn in Sitges.
What it the "Castanyada"?
Do you notice that smell in the streets? What's that smoke coming out of the stalls? Indeed, autumn is full of sweet potatoes and chestnuts. And these, precisely, give name to one of the most characteristic traditions of Catalonia: the Castanyada, which comes from the hand of the also traditional panellets.
It is said that the tradition of eating chestnuts is intimately related to the All Saints' Day, coinciding on the same date: the night of October 31st. Its origin is found at the end of the 18th century. There are those who speak of funerary banquets in which this type of food was served while the family watched over the dead. This was a hard task that required staying up all night, and for this, the bell ringers needed food that would provide them with enough energy and help them withstand the cold.
A night in which families and friends gather -if possible near a fire- to eat toasted chestnuts, sweet potatoes, panellets (or All Saints' Day sweets, some marzipan-like rolls that were deposited in the tombs so that the dead would be nourished in another life) and candied fruit, accompanying everything with sweet wine. But the "previous" one we have it in the streets, full of positions where we can buy chestnuts and sweet potatoes to fight the cold. And for the lovers of the sayings, we leave you one very typical of this date: "Per Tots Sants, castanyes i panellets".
Tradition has it that, in Catalonia, on the night of 31 October (All Saints' Night) the "Castanyada" is celebrated. A night in which families and friends get together -if possible near a fire- to eat toasted chestnuts, sweet potatoes and panellets (or sweets of all the saints), accompanied by sweet wine. But we have the "previous" in the streets, full of stalls where we can buy chestnuts and sweet potatoes to combat the cold.
But where does this custom come from? Its origin can be found at the end of the 18th century. There are those who speak of funerary banquets in which this type of food was served while the family watched over the dead. However, there are those who attribute the origin of this tradition to the “campaneros”, who had to spend the night of all the saints awake to ring the bells of the villages. This was a hard task that required staying up all night and, for this, the bell ringers needed food that would provide them with enough energy and help them withstand the cold.
And for the lovers of proverbs, we leave you one very typical of this date: "Per Tots Sants, castanyes i panellets" ("Per Tots Sants, castanyes i panellets").
Halloween, the scariest night of the year
Although Castanyada is a deeply rooted tradition in Catalonia, the truth is that more and more people (due also to the tourism in Sitges and in the rest of the cities) chooses to celebrate Halloween. A party that has been globalized for many years and that, contrary to what is believed, does not come from the United States. Its origin is pagan and has its roots in the Celtic festival Samhain (about 2,000 years ago). The Celts believed that on the night of October 31, the deceased returned to the land. Legend has it that during the night of October 31, the door between the world of spirits and the world of the living remained open. The ghosts and souls of the dead took advantage of this moment to wander freely between the two worlds.
Later, in the 8th century, this festival was renamed by the Catholic Church as "All Saints" or "All Hallows" and therefore "All Hallows Eve", for the previous night, which evolved to "Halloween". Nowadays, children go out dressed up, they do the famous "trick or treat" to get sweets, and adults attend fancy dress parties or watch horror movies, along with many other activities.
Today, Halloween night has become one of the most popular nights in practically all parts of the world, regardless of the religious or pagan character it may have in its beginnings. It is one of the most famous celebrations and, in spite of not being typical of our country, it is currently very popular in all towns and cities.
Sitges can't be less, even more so considering that every year the International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia is held just a few days before, also in October. This means that there are many restaurants offering special menus and scary nights, and many clubs and discos offer discounts to people who go dressed up on the night of the 31st.
"Castanyada" or Halloween?: where to stay in Sitges?
Whether you are from Castanyada or from Halloween, come with your family or friends to any of our apartments for rent in Sitges. You can start decorating pumpkins, stop for chestnuts and panellets, and end up watching scary movies or going out looking for zombies in Sitges. Do you dare to come?