All Saints' Day traditions in the Canary Islands: Tenerife
November is approaching and with it a new opportunity to explore the traditions of the Canary Islands: Tenerife and its take on All Saints’ Day. Having chosen this heavenly corner of the world as your home or holiday destination doesn’t just mean enjoying incredible landscapes and a year-round perfect climate; it’s also an opportunity to learn more about the culture and people of the Canary Islands, and the traditions that have been passed down here from generation to generation.
On the Fortunate Isles, as in many other countries, All Saints’ Day isn’t a sad occasion, but a time to joyfully recall everything you shared with loved ones that have passed on. Today, discover how islanders keep memories of their departed ones fresh near your exclusive home on Tenerife at Abama Luxury Resort.
It’s possible that you and your family and friends are planning to celebrate Halloween this coming 31st of October, because this festival of Celtic origin has successfully crossed multiple frontiers to root itself deeply in Anglosaxon culture and take on a truly international character that has even gotten stronger in Spain. With no disrespect to the opportunity offered by the “Noche de Brujas” to dress up, play tricks, and have a great time, today we’d like to offer some information about other ways to commemorate All Saints’ Day. The Canary Islands Tenerife traditions have many commonalities with the ancient Samhain, but they also have the distinctive touch that the local way of life lends to everything near our exclusive homes on Tenerife.
If what you like about these days is the chance to meet up with your family to remember those who have passed on and celebrate life, you’ll love the Canary Islands’ Fiesta de los Finados. Originally, it took place the night of the 1st of November, but currently, to take advantage of the holiday the following day, it is often moved to the 31st of October.
Children are at the centre of this lovely tradition of “los Finaos”. Like Halloween, they go from door to door of their neighbours’ houses, but in this case, to ask, “Are there spirits?” or “Bread for God?” (the latter being more typical in the north of Tenerife). In the olden days, as a response, the children didn’t receive candy but rather seasonal dried fruit and nuts: walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, or dried figs. The Brotherhood of Spirits, which played and sang, also went from house to house on All Saints’ Night to ask for contributions and celebrate the “Novena de las Ánimas”.
But this night was also a time to get together to remember those who had passed on. In ancient tradition, the oldest female relative of each family was the one who led the evening, recounting amusing stories and anecdotes. Meanwhile, everyone who had gathered would share a meal including the dried fruit and nuts that the children had collected earlier, plus a variety of sweets and drinks like anise or honey rum, depending on the area. This marvellous way to welcome the Fall has remained almost completely intact in the rural part of the Canary Islands, where it is also common to play timples or guitars as an accompaniment to the celebration.
There are many commonalities in celebrations of All Saints’ Day the world over, and coming together and entertaining one another are important in the Canary Islands Tenerife Fiesta de los Finados as well. This is a wonderful example of the special character of the islanders that wins over new residents of our Abama Resort year after year. If you’re among those who only celebrate Halloween, give these deeply rooted Tenerife culture traditions a try. Remember those who have passed on, because as long as they are alive in our memories, they’ll never be completely gone.