An Introduction to Catalunya’s Family-Friendly Castanyada

The Nanny Line, Barcelona’s premiere nanny agency, doesn’t want you to miss Catalunya’s family-friendly Castanyada.  You may have already caught a whiff of roasting chestnuts and roasted sweet potatoes in the fall air of Barcelona. The Castanyada, or the chestnut festival, is a traditional annual autumn celebration on November 1st.  The holiday’s traditions come from the season’s foods: sweet potatoes boniatos, roast chestnuts castanyas and special cookies made from a mash of sweet potato and almond meal covered in pine nuts called panellets.


Kids love making the Castanyada snack 

Catalunya’s love for panellets started on the night of October 31st (All Saints Night) when church bells rang all night long to honor the dead.  The poor souls tasked with ringing the heavy bells needed quick snacks, so the resourceful bakers of the time developed energy-rich panellets to help keep them going.  Today, panellets are a fun and easy cooking project to tackle with your children.  They will love mashing together the panellets’ ingredients and rolling the balls of dough in pine nuts or coconut.  The recipe calls for only 6 ingredients, all of which are readily available at your local market.


November 1st is traditionally the day that Catalonians celebrate All Saints Day, Tots Sants (Catalan) Todos Santos (Spanish), or the Spanish version of the Day of the Dead elsewhere in the world.  This is another reason why panellets are so important for this holiday.  Panallets became the chosen offering to be left at grave sites on All Saints Day.  Of course the dead need a long-lasting snack for their journey to the after world.  

Learn about the Castanyera, star of the Castanyada

The main character of the Castanada is the castanyera: an old lady, dressed in peasant’s clothing and wearing a headscarf, sitting behind a table, roasting chestnuts on the street.  Chestnuts are also central to Cataluna’s autumn celebrations because each chestnut eaten on All Saints Night, October 31, is said to represent the memory of someone who has died.  We suggest you take your kids on a walk to a playground and then pass by a street corner to try some roasted chestnuts to warm up their hands. This map shows where on Barcelona’s streets you can find the stalls with charcoal grills serving up hot chestnuts and sweet potatoes.

Young children love learning about the castanyers from the many adorable children’s books written about the Castanyada tradition.  You can find these books online or in bookstores around Barcelona.  You can also download free coloring sheets for your little one to color which teach them about these special Catalan traditions.  Our all-star nannies with local knowledge know where to buy the best panallets and the bookstores stocking Castanyada books.  They are also great at coming up with fun activities and crafts such these easy DIY autumn crafts to keep your kids engaged and learning.

Stay Sane on the Day Off

In Barcelona, All Saints Day is a quiet day, celebrated with a family meal and a visit to church to honor Catholic saints and/or a visit to Barcelona’s cemeteries to honor loved one’s graves with flowers and wreaths.  November 1st is a bank holiday in Catalunya, meaning that your children most likely won’t have school.  Do you dread their plaintive cries of “We’re bored”?  Maybe you don’t have the day off from work?  Not to worry! The Nanny Line’s VIP babysitters who can help entertain your kids all day long.

Our pre-screened, English-speaking nannies and babysitters are childcare experts. You can book online (even last minute).  If you are visiting from out of town, our babysitters can come to your hotel.  We have you covered for Catalunya’s family-friendly Castanyada.  Call the Nanny Line to make sure your family enjoys this special autumn holiday.

We’d love to see photos of your family enjoying Barcelona’s Halloween happenings or Castanyada celebrations.  Did we miss some other fun family-friendly autumn event in Barcelona?  Let us know below in the Comments Section, on Instagram or our Facebook page.

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