La Castañada- the feast of chestnut

From today (31 October ), you will see chestnut sales on the streets of Barcelona. Why exactly from now on? During the night from 31th of October to 1th of November, the Catalans do not only celebrate All Saints’ Nights but also the Castañada – the eve of roasted chestnuts. During dinner, the families gather at the table and eat roasted chestnuts, bread and drink wine. Where does this tradition come from?

History

From the beginning of the ancient era chestnuts were quite an important product on the Iberian peninsula. Chestnuts and acorns were one of the basic products in the Iberian diet. With the arrival of the Romans on the Iberian Peninsula, chestnut cultivation increased. They were eaten as dried fruits or ground into flour.
During pagan holidays and festivities, chestnuts were offered as gifts to the gods in gratitude for the successful harvest.

But what does the chestnut have in common with the All Saints’ Nights ? We can find the beginning of this tradition in two customs, both from the end of the 18th century.

According to the first story, the tradition of Castañada is coming from the old funeral banquets. During these banquets, the only food served was legumes , dry fruits and chestnuts. During the baking of chestnuts, three parts of the rosary were recited for the souls of the deceased.

The second explanation is more practical. During the All Saints’ Nights the people had to pray all night for the souls of the dead. To prevent falling asleep, the church belfries had to ring the bells from dusk to dawn. The work was long and hard, the belfries ate highly energetic food to do their job: chestnuts, potatoes and wine.

If you are in Barcelona, try roasted chestnuts and feel the tradition of Castañada, if not, don’t worry, roasted chestnuts are selling on the streets of Barcelona until March.

Fiesta de Gracia

Gracia is a district of Barcelona that dates back to the 17th century. A small village of Gracia (Villa de Gracia) was built around one of the religious orders. In 1850, the small village was connected to the city of Barcelona, but never lost its own character. The district is famous for Casa Vincent by Antoni Gaudi, Park Guell and the Fiesta de Gracia, which begins today! If you’re in Barcelona, you can’t miss this most popular event. The people of Barcelona cannot imagine August without Fiesta de Gracia. The Fiesta de gracia is celebrated from 15.08 to 21.08 and is over 200 years old.

Why is it popular? Many streets in the Gracia district are fantastically decorated by neighbours. Each street has a different topic, you can admire: a garden with flora and fauna (Berga Street), a tent commemorating the novel La plaça del Diamant (Ciudad Real Street), Halloween (Fraternitat de Baix Street), a bar of the 50s. (Fraternitat de Dalt Street), environmental complaint of plastic sea (Jesus Street), Indian village (Joan Blanques de Baix Street), abstract landscape of emotions (Joan Blanques de Dalt Street) or Pantone colours (Pearl Street). All the decorations are made of recyclable materials (thank you, Gracia!). On the last day of the Fiesta one of the streets of Gracia is chosen as the best decorated and wins a prize.

If I still didn’t convince you to visit Gracia, remember that this year there are more than 900 different activities planned for people of all ages. You will find in Gracia: concerts, beer tastings, competitions, workshops, sports activities, parades, Castellers, neighborhood dinners, theatre, exhibitions and outdoor cinema. Go to Gracia and enjoy this amazing and unique event!