Halloween’s gone. Thank God. I’ve been reading about pumpkins, eerie places and horror films for weeks. Time to move on.
Don’t get me wrong. I like Halloween, but only the dressing-up part. We Spaniards love dressing up, probably due to having a big Carnival tradition. And we seem to like celebrating other people’s traditions too. An excuse to party, I guess?
It’s not bad to celebrate others’ traditions, as long as we keep celebrating ours. After all the Halloween frenzy, today I want to defend a (not only) Spanish tradition taking place every 1 November—Día de Todos los Santos (All Saints’ Day).
This celebration has religious origins and commemorates all Christian saints. It’s also a public holiday in most autonomous communities.
All Saint’s Day in Extremadura
In Extremadura people celebrate the Día de Todos los Santos spending the day in the countryside with the family or friends and eating lots of seasonal nuts. Not the nuts that come in a bag and you just buy in the shop, but the good ones, those ones handpicked in your local area and sold by weight in the markets. A classic thing to do is to roast chestnuts on an open fire.
All Saints’ Day brings lots of memories from my childhood. I used to go with my grandma and my brother to a hill just outside Alburquerque with tons of almonds (that we had to open using a stone), walnuts, hazelnuts, quince paste. Well, and sweeties, but we wouldn’t tell our mum). The place was popular with local families and kids, so it was easy to find people to play with.
When you reach your teens things change. There are no children games with your family any more. The day turns into a more boozie barbeque party with your friends in a country house. Or, why not, even a full weekend away. Nuts are still present, though. I guess we would feel bad just getting pissed! During the day you make a barbeque outside, roast chestnuts, go for a walk and pick some mushrooms or arbutus unedo. People say that if you have many the latter you end up drunk. I must confess I did the test once and I didn’t get drunk, but fell ill and spent two days with a terrible stomachache. The evening is spent chatting away, eating and drinking by the heated table, playing card or table games, dancing and, in short, having a good time.
If you didn’t celebrate Halloween yesterday, or if you did but want to continue partying you know what to do. Grab some nuts, some booze, call some friends, and go nutty!
Did you know about the All Saints’ Day celebrations in Spain? What’s your favourite Spanish tradition? Share it in the comments below.