La Castanyada (the Day of Chestnut) is a national holiday of Catalonia (Spain) and widely celebrated in Andorra (Pyrenees). The name of the holiday derives from the word castanya—translated as “chestnut.” Chestnuts can be bought here on Allhallow Day Eve (Tots Sants) that coincides with a second popular Halloween—at night from October 31 till November 1. On Chestnut Day, chestnuts are fried in huge pans on an open fire, filling the air with a sweet, smoky smell.

Traditionally, people eat them with baked sweet potatoes (moniato) and confectionery (panelets) and drink sweet white wine (vi ranci and moscatell).

The Day of Chestnut. The tradition of eating fried chestnuts and sweet potatoes takes its origin from Medieval centuries. On the Allhallow Day Eve, in all parishes and monasteries of Catalonia, ringers tolled bells, reminding citizens to pray for the souls of the departed.

Chestnuts were the food for bell ringers—they are very nutritious and mid- autumn is their growing season. Congregants baked chestnuts in the squares in order to help ringers restore their energy, as they had to toll the bells all night long. This is how the tradition of eating chestnuts and sweet potatoes and drinking Muscat wine, emerged. A bit later, sweet buns (panelets) were added to the traditional list.

From the end of 18th century, chestnuts became the objects of trade and could be bought at all central squares. From this time, the symbol of the holiday emerged: an old lady dressed in long, dark skirt with kerchief and apron; i.e., a typical chestnut seller. La castanyera is the heroine of Catalonian central streets.

Chestnuts in Catalonia and Andorra can be bought between the end of October until the beginning of November.

See also How to cook chestnuts

See also Andorra cuisine

See also Catalan cuisine

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