PAYING RESPECT: Why Spain celebrates All Saints’ Day as a national holiday

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PASSED ON: Cemeteries fill with flowers on All Saints’ Day Photo Credit: Shutterstock

PEOPLE from across Spain are marking All Saints’ Day today (Thursday), a holiday that sees many take time to honour and respect the dead.

Families traditionally gather in cemeteries and lay flowers at the graves of loved ones on All Saints’ Day (Dia de Todos los Santos in Spanish).

Cemeteries become filled with colour as a result of people placing the bouquets to help keep the memory of their deceased loved ones alive.

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The festival is so prominent that November 1 continues to be the day when florists in Spain sell the most flowers. Scenes of flowers in cemeteries also feature in popular culture, such as in the 2006 film Volver.

Churches also hold special masses to mark the day in memory of all those who have passed away.

Spanish people take part in several other traditional activities to mark the day.

In the north of Spain there is the castañada which sees friends and families gather to eat castañas (chestnuts) and other traditional sweets.

Other treats include buñelos de viento. Folklore has it that the dough fritters, often filled with custard, chocolate and cream, release a soul from purgatory when eaten. The marzipan flavoured huesos de santo (saint’s bones) are also a popular snack.

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