Els Espantanens and the Nit d'Animes in Puigcerdá

Els Espantanens and the Nit d'Animes in Puigcerdá
It celebrates: 29th October
Place: Puigcerdà (Gerona)
Category: Representation
Popularity: (***) 3/5
Ideal for children
Organize: Comisión de Fiestas del Ayuntamiento de Puigcerdá
Known start date: Since 2009
Peculiar CostumesDemonsParadesNight of the deadsParadesUrban
Reading time: 4 minutes

Come and enjoy one of the spookiest and funniest nights in PuigCerdá, in La Cerdanya. This is the festival of Els Espantanens and the Nit d'Animes in Puigcerdá. It is a picturesque Spanish village, capital of the Catalan region of Lower Cerdanya, in the province of Gerona (autonomous community of Catalonia).

Among witches, ghosts and ghouls, you'll have an unforgettable night, so come and discover this ghostly festival!

What is the festival of Els Espantanens and the Nit d'Animes in Puigcerdá?

The festival of Els Espantanens and the Nit d'Ànimes is an ancient Catalan tradition known as the "Night of Souls", which takes place in Puigcerdà on the Saturday closest to 31st October.

Costumes and ghostly make-up are the protagonists
Costumes and ghostly make-up are the protagonists

It is an esoteric fair that has been revived since 2009. It includes a varied programme of activities, parades and shows related to esotericism. The central theme of this festival is based on the legends and myths of the Pyrenees, recreating in the streets of Puigcerdá the ancestral traditions of the valley's villages.

At nightfall, the spirits of the dead visit the living, with the special participation of "Els Espantanens", traditional characters from the Cerdanya region who used to frighten children. Nowadays these characters are friendlier and give out sweets to those who attend.

How is the Night of the Souls celebrated in Puigcerdá?

During the night, Els Espantanens de la Cerdanya walk through the streets and houses of Puigcerdà, accompanied by a group of drummers to stage the tradition of the visit of the spirits of the dead to the living.

According to Celtic tradition, during this night the doors of the lower world remain open from a metaphorical point of view, so that the spirits can come out to our world or that we humans can descend to the underworld.

Els Espantanens or Los Espantaneos are typical characters from European folklore that were used in the past to scare children if they did not behave well. Nowadays, in the celebration of this popular festival, the Espantanens leave from the Museu Cerdà, parading through the streets of Puigcerdà and giving sweets to the children.

At the end of the route they arrive at the Plaça Santa Maria, where they are presented to the public and dance the traditional Espantanens chorus.

The characters that star in this spooky and fun popular festival are as follows:

  • El Caragot: he is a tall, gigantic ghoul with a huge sack on his back.
  • El Jan del Gel: a typical scarecrow from the Ribes valley.
  • El Padre Lobo: he is a wolf charmer.
  • In Camuñas: he is a fright with a big mouth and long fangs that swallows children.
  • En Cuerno Verde: a demon with a huge green horn in the middle of his forehead, armed with a pitchfork.
  • La Ginebreda: a Catalan ogress made of wood and moss, with a terrible temper.
  • La Muerte (Death): she is the ultimate scarecrow and scarecrow, carrying a scythe, with the inscription "Nemini parco" (I spare no one).
  • La Moixina: an old caveman ogress with a very bad temper.
  • La Noche (The Night): she is a black-robed creature that inhabits the peaks of Meranges.
  • La Tinyosa: she is a Catalan espantanense associated with the fog of the night.
  • Papasa: is a horrible hooded giant, based on the Papus.
  • Roegacebas: a wandering soul from Vilar d'Urtx who used to steal onions, being cursed for eternity.

Origins of the celebration of the festival of Els Espantanens and the Nit d'Animes in Puigcerdá

It is believed that one of the origins of this festival is based on the feast of Samhain, the most important Celtic festival of the pagan period in Europe, which was Christianised several centuries ago. In this region of Spain it became the Night of Souls or Nit d'Animes.

Since 2009 different festive and ethnological elements related to the Night of Souls have been rescued and incorporated.

What else can you see or do in Puigcerdá?

Lake in Puigcerdá
Lake in Puigcerdá

These magnificent natural sites in Puigcerdá are well worth a visit:

  • El Estany de Puigcerdà: it is one of the most typical places in La Cerdanya. Along the route you can see information panels on flora and fauna with images of the birds and fish of the area. Next to the pond is the Schierbeck park, with a children's play area and a botanical garden.
  • The lovers' path: it is 3.5 km long and forms part of the Senders de Cerdanya network.
  • Church of Sant Domènec: this religious building was a former convent from the 13th century, destroyed by an earthquake in the 15th century. Nowadays it has several works of art inside.

Puigcerdá's gastronomy

We invite you to taste the delicious typical gastronomy of La Cerdanya and Puigcerdá:

  • Rabbit with mushrooms: a dish prepared with rabbit meat and seasonal mushrooms.
  • Tirò amd naps de Cerdanya: it is made with duck and turnips from Talltendre, accompanied by fried garlic, onion and a good white wine.
  • Mato de Cerdanya: this is a typical dessert in the Cerdanya region, made with cow's milk and a touch of honey.
  • Trinxat or trinxat de la Cerdanya: prepared with winter green cabbage from La Cerdanya, potatoes and rostes or bacon cutlets.

Share photos, videos and interesting information about the festival of Els Espantanens and the Nit d'Animes in Puigcerdá on social networks, with the hashtags #espantanens #nitdánimes #Puigcerdá.

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