26. Spain (Catalonia)
>Tradition: eating chestnuts and egg-yolk candies
In Spain’s Catalonia region, Oct. 31 is celebrated as La Castanyada, or the Chestnut Festival, an observance tied to All Saints’ Day. Families and friends meet and eat roasted chestnuts, sweet potatoes, and panellets — sweet egg yolk and almond pastries, typically covered in pine nuts — and drink sweet moscatel wine.
There are various theories as to the origin of this celebration. Church bells used to ring all night on the eve of All Saints’ Day, and some say that the Castanyada foods were sustenance for the bell-ringers. It may simply be, however, that chestnuts were a convenient food to roast while people said prayers for their dead relatives.
> : avoiding spirits and the Black Sow
Wales has its own equivalent of Halloween called Calan Gaeaf and it has been celebrated for more than a thousand years. It is believed that spirits return, so people avoid churchyards, stiles, and crossroads, since spirits are thought to gather there. There is a creepy ritual called Hwch Ddu, or Black Sow, when a slaughtered animal — usually a man covered in a cloth or animal skin — rises up and chases away the children.