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Autumn has finally arrived in Sitges and we are looking forward to it. It is true that in this season we notice how the temperatures drop but, we are not going to fool ourselves, in Sitges we love to boast about our "microclimate": 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).
The trees bring out their orange, red and brown tonality so characteristic of autumn... And there are also ingredients from the gastronomy of this time of 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".
And you, which one do you prefer? In this post we explain the origin of both festivities and we recommend you 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. 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"). The panellets are little rolls similar to marzipan that were deposited in the tombs so that the deceased would be nourished in another life.
Halloween, the scariest night of the year
Although Castanyada is a deeply rooted tradition in Catalonia, the truth is that more and more people (also due to tourism in Sitges and other cities) choose to celebrate Halloween. A party that does not come from the United States, as is believed. 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.
As we said, this is one of the most famous celebrations around the world and, despite not being a tradition from our own country, it has had a good reception. Sitges can't stay behind, especially considering we have the Sitges Film Festival and the Sitges Zombie Walk in October. Events that invite us to continue with the horror theme, so characteristic of this tradition. This means that there are many restaurants that offer special menus and special nights of fear, and many clubs that offer discounts to people who go dressed up with costumes on the night of the 31st.
But why celebrate only one thing, when you can do both? Come with your family or friends to any of our apartments in Sitges and spend a fantastic day and evening celebrating both traditions. You can start decorating pumpkins, stop to eat chestnuts and panellets, and end up watching scary movies or going out to chase zombies around Sitges. Do you dare to come?
"Castanyada" or Halloween?: where to stay in Sitges?
Why keep a celebration when we can enjoy both? If you're thinking of visiting Sitges to experience both the traditional Castanyada and the terrifying Halloween night in Sitges in first person, we encourage you to take a look at our apartments for rent in Sitges.