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SPANISH TRADITIONS

How Spain celebrates All Saints’ Day

All Saints' Day or Día de Todos los Santos as it’s called in Spanish falls on November 1st and is a public holiday in Spain. Discover how this day is celebrated across the country.

How Spain celebrates All Saints' Day
All Saint's Day in Spain. Photo: JORGE GUERRERO / AFP

Major shops are closed, kids stay home from school and many businesses are shut too, so what do Spaniards do on All Saints’ Day? 

A day at the cemeteries

The most traditional activity to do on All Saints’ Day is to go to the local cemetery. Spanish families usually go together to the cemeteries where their loved ones are buried, clean their gravestones and leave fresh flowers. Some cemeteries may even have events on such as live music or dance performances.

It’s also a day for spending time with family and perhaps meeting at someone’s house for a meal.  

READ ALSO: Five weird and wonderful Spanish traditions on All Saints’ Day 

Traditional treats to enjoy on Día de Todos los Santos

Panellets

Panellets are traditional sweets from Catalonia eaten around this time of year. They are typically small balls made from marzipan and studded with pine nuts. You can, however, get many different flavours and many different types of decorations such as chocolate or even coffee ones, although most of them are still made with almond flour.  

Huesos de Santo

Saint’s bones as they are called in English are another typical treat found all over Spain at this time of year. Also made from marzipan, they’re long finger-like rolls filled with a sweet egg-yolk custard, created to look like bones. Today you can find many different flavours such as chocolate, coconut, praline or even yoghurt.

Try some huesos de Santo on All Saints’ Day. Photo: Tamorlan / WikiCommons

Buñuelos de Viento

Wind fritters are small deep-fried fritters or doughnuts, which are again found in many regions across Spain during this time of year. They’re made from a batter of flour, sugar, eggs and milk and then deep-fried in hot oil before being filled with different creamy centres.

The most typical is vanilla cream, but you can also find many different types. Another favourite is those filled with cabello de ángel or angel hair, which is essentially candied spaghetti squash.

Legend says that when you eat a buñuelo, a soul is released from purgatory, which is why eating them has become a popular custom on All Saints’ Day.

Experts vary in their opinion as to the origins of these fritters. Some say they date back to the Moors, while others claim that one of the first references to them went as far back as Roman times.

La Castañada

La Castañada (Castanyada in Catalan) is a tradition held across Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Aragón and coincides with All Saints’ Day and Halloween, even though it’s a separate festival. During the days leading up to these and the days itself, you’ll find chestnut sellers on street corners, roasting shiny brown chestnuts and big pumpkin-coloured sweet potatoes.

Children also go to school around the time, dressed as chestnut sellers.

This is the time of year for roast chestnuts in Spain. Photo: Angel Abril Ruiz / WikiCommons

Many regions in Spain have their own versions of the Castañada, such as Gaztañerre Eguna in the Basque Country and Navarra, which is known as the ‘día de las castañas asadas‘ or day of the roast chestnuts. It is typically celebrated on November 2nd and All Saints’ Night when families gather to honour their deceased loved ones by eating chestnuts, snails in sauce and motokil, similar to polenta made from cornmeal.

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SPANISH TRADITIONS

The Spanish village where locals bet on where a donkey will poo

Spain is home to many weird and wacky festivals, from burning giant sculptures to jumping over babies and chucking wine all over each other, but this one has to be the strangest yet.

The Spanish village where locals bet on where a donkey will poo

In the small village of Alfafara in the province of Alicante in Valencia, the locals celebrate a festival they call ‘la cagá de la burra‘ – translated as ‘the poo of the donkey’.  

The main event of the festival is really very straightforward – the residents of the village must guess the location of where the donkey will poo.  

READ ALSO: Twelve of the best festivals in Spain

The donkey is kept in a field that is divided up into many different squares. Each participant buys a ticket, representing one of these squares, allowing them to bet on a particular plot of land – each one hoping that they have predicted the correct spot.

Afterward, all that remains is to wait and see who is the winner.

Each person is allowed to buy up to three tickets at €5 each, essentially giving them three chances at getting it right. 

Some locals believe that choosing a plot in the sun is the best as these squares will have the most grass for the donkey to eat.  

While participants are waiting, there is a festival atmosphere with plenty of music, eating and drinking.  

If the donkey poos in more than one plot, the area with the most poo will be the winning spot.  

The prizes can be up to €600, or €200 if the box is divided further.  

The festival and its important competition were created in order to raise money for the local Three Kings’ parade on the night of January 5th, and is now in its fourth year. 

It has already become popular and has begun to attract visitors from nearby towns and villages too.

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