I’ve recently been studying about the Catalan tradition of ‘La Castanyada’, which roughly translates as the ‘Chestnut Party’. I remember experiencing the festivities when I stayed with some Catalan friends a few years ago.
What surprised me about La Castanyada was how hard the Catalan people are trying to preserve their tradition. It is very family orientated celebration with large meals and special foods cooked over a few days. It was wonderful to experience a part of Catalan culture like this.
When I was in there, I also helped in an English class because my host was a languages teacher. With the children, we explored the differences between La Castanyada, Halloween and Guy Fawkes’ or Bonfire Night because they had never heard of it.
To experience the days of celebration where I learnt some catalan recipes, shared meals and visited the cemetery to pay respect to deceased loved ones made me reflect on my own traditions.
Why do we ‘celebrate’ Halloween?
Do we think about the meaning behind it?
Do we know why we are burning a figure of someone from English history called Guy Fawkes on Bonfire Night?
I’ve personally never really been one to ‘celebrate’ Halloween. What annoys me about it is the commercialisation of the day, which start with the shops putting out Halloween-themed decorations in their stores from the end of August. I think there is a lack of understanding about the actual tradition. But as with other ‘holidays’ such as Christmas and Easter, there is more focus on money, commercialiation and partying than actually understanding the message and meaning why we celebrate Halloween.
For me, it’s important that we remember and pass on culture and traditions, especially when they serve us and can be family occasions. There is not enough of that in modern society. We are more interested in spending money on costumes and partying or buying fireworks or presents or easter eggs (none which are necessarily bad!).
But once its over, we immediately move onto the next ‘celebration’. The shops start preparing. We go out and start spending money on the next lot of decorations, costumes or presents.
Do you think it’s important to pass on traditions? What traditons does your culture/family celebrate? Would you say that these traditions are dying off?