Halloween (31st of October) is approaching, but in Spain we didn’t use to celebrate it. In Spain is more traditional to celebrate the 1st of November, called “All Saints Day”. This day, people visit graveyards to offer flowers and clean the graves of their relatives. In Catalonia we also have a tradition of preparing roast chestnuts and sweet potatoes that we eat with “panellets“, a kind of little marzipan cakes with different shapes depending on the main ingredient. I hope I cant talk more about “panellets” in another post because I like them very much and I’d like to add pictures and recipes, and I should prepare them first, of course.
Returning back to the pumpkins and Halloween…It’s said that All Saints Day is the catholic version of the “Samhain“, the pagan celebration that Celtics had for the last day of the year. They believed that day the spirits of the dead could take over the bodies of the living and resurrect. To prevent this, they started decorating their houses with unpleasant objects as skulls, bones and other sinister looking things, so that the dead would get scared and avoid the houses. So, although this celebration has become popular through American culture, has in fact an European origin.
Some years ago, many Spanish people started celebrating Halloween too, so they now celebrate two holidays: Halloween and the All Saints Day. But officially only the 1st of November is a holiday in Spain.
A pumpkin field in Spain:
Click on the images to see them bigger
I’d like to finish talking about what we do with pumpkins when it isn’t Halloween. In Valencia they prepare “buÃ±uelos de calabaza“, a round wheat flour and pumpkin dough fried in oil, when it’s Fallas time.
In Spain is widely used (all the year) in pastries, cakes, etc… a kind of pumpkin jam known as “cabello de Ã¡ngel” (”angel’s hair” because it looks like golden filaments) and which is really sweet and sticky. We also prepare pudding, creams and soups and it’s very tasty. I’ve seen it even as a pasta filling…but this is an Italian recipe.
Apart from cuisine, during years pumpkins had been used in other ways. People used to dry them and use as a float when plastic floats didn’t exist. They gathered some and tied them around their waist. The type of pumpkin used for floats is not the same of the picture. It’s a much smaller type. Dried pumpkins of this smaller type were used as containers too, making a hole at the stalk and placing a cork. A different type of pumpkin with a long stalk was used to make a funnel cutting the top of the stalk and the bottom.
Also, when saying you “bring pumpkins” (“traer calabazas”), people will understand you failed an exam. Nowadays is a little old fashioned expression.