Although autumn begins in September, in Catalonia there are two celebrations that mark the arrival of this season of the year: la Castanyada and All Saints’ Day.
On October 31, the Catalans celebrate la Castanyada festival, a day in which people roast and eat chestnuts, the fruit of the chestnut. The day after, All Saints’ Day is celebrated, and in Catalonia is also typical to eat panellets, a traditional sweet made with a marzipan base and covered with pine nuts.
La Castanyada is a popular festival that is celebrated on October 31, the day before All Saints’ Day, in Catalonia. Around this date, it is typical to eat chestnuts, panellets, sweet potatoes and candied fruit, in addition to accompanying meals with a traditional drink, muscatel.
It is said that this celebration comes from an old funeral ritual festival in which the deceased were prayed, offerings were made to them and the whole family gathered to make a meal in honor of the relatives who had left them.
Although there are also those who argue that chestnuts are eaten during these dates because the bell ringers used to eat them (accompanied by sweet wine to warm themselves) to recharge batteries to ring the huge church bells to warn of the arrival of All Saint’s Day.
During this festival, a bonfire is lit and a metal cylinder with holes in the base (called “the drum”) is placed over the embers. Before putting the chestnuts in the container to roast them, they are cut so that they do not jump or explode. Once cooked, they are placed in the paperina (the Catalan name for a newspaper cone) and ready to be eaten.
The days before and after this celebration, there are people who roast the chestnuts and sell them on the street. In fact, this celebration is usually represented with the figure of a humble old woman who roasts chestnuts dresses in warm clothes and a headscarf.
Chestnuts are a typical autumn dry fruit. They are edible and highly appreciated as food in some areas of the world for being rich in fats, proteins, minerals, and vitamin C. Although the most traditional way of eating them is roasted, they can also be eaten raw or boiled. They can be used to make sweet recipes, such as cakes or chestnut cream, and chestnut flour, that can be used to make bread or pasta.
Panellets are a traditional sweet from Catalonia, the Valencian Community and the Balearic Islands that is consumed on November 1 during All Saints' Day.
The current recipe for this sweet dates back to the 18th century, when they were used as a blessed food to share after religious celebrations. Although its origin is unknown, its composition based on almonds suggests that it could be a recipe for Arab pastries.
The panellets are made on a marzipan base made with ground raw almonds, sugar, eggs, and lemon zest, although they can also be fattened up with cooked potatoes or sweet potatoes. The dough is shaped into small spheres and covered with yolk to adhere a layer of pine nuts. They are brushed again with yolk and then baked and left to cool.
In this video you will find the step by step and the exact measurements to make this traditional recipe.
Currently, you can find panellets made with less traditional ingredients, such as coconut, chocolate, coffee, or quince, among many others. If you want, you can also try to make these innovative recipes.
It is not a difficult recipe to follow, which is why many Catalans make them at home. In addition, it is a sweet that does not go bad from one day to the next. If you are not from here and you are in Catalonia during these dates, we advise you to go to any pastry shop and buy panellets of different flavors. We are pretty sure that you will repeat!
If you want to enjoy this traditional festival in Catalonia, come and stay at Rosamar Hotels. We have hotels in Lloret de Mar, on the Costa Brava.
Located on the beachfront, the four-star superior Rosamar & Spa hotel offers a multitude of services for you to enjoy your stay to the fullest: spa, swimming pools, fitness area... In addition to a wide gastronomic offer, with a bar and three different restaurants.
The Rosamar Maxim hotel, located on the beach of Sa Caleta, is a four-star adults only hotel (+21). It has an outdoor pool (covered and heated in low season), panoramic terrace with spectacular views of the sea, relaxation area and gym.
Enjoy autumn on the Costa Brava with Rosamar Hotels!