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November 01 All Saints Day

Updated: Mar 1, 2021

Byzantine panel depicting the saints in heaven.

The term saint has many connotations. In eastern religions such as Buddhism, the emphasis of sainthood applies to a living person who leads an upright life and who has overcome materialism and selfishness. The Christian religion often places emphasis on the dead, rather than the living, a practice based in part on the Roman tradition of naming the dead as gods. The Christians basically kept the process, but applied the term saint instead.

Some of the more orthodox divisions of the Christian Church believe that saints have the power of interceding with God on behalf of the living, and through this intercession, "miracles" occur. These miracles usually involve cures from serious or incurable diseases without medical intervention. All Saint's Day is primarily a celebration or commemoration of the millions of souls who are believed to be united with God, even though only a fraction of them have been formally certified as saints.

The tradition of naming saints is still practiced by the Catholic Church. As with some of its traditions and practices, the power to name saints has been abused and subjected to political pressures throughout the Church's history. In a general housecleaning in 1969, the Catholic Church "declassified" or "desanctified" over 300 former saints, including such notables as St. Christopher, after a review of available documents offered insufficient evidence to justify sainthood. The mythical implications of sainthood are still quite strong in the Church as is evidenced by an Italian priest's efforts to initiate canonization procedures for Grace Kelly one year after her death.

The Spanish especially thrive on the cults of their numerous indigenous local saints and nearly every village and city has a special celebration on their patron saints feastday which involves carrying the saint's statue through the streets. The Spanish have an equivalent flair for the celebration of All Saints Day by consuming huesos de santos (bones of the saints) by the thousands. These special confections are hollow candy rolls, filled with candied egg yolks and painted with a white coating to resemble small bones.

These huesos are ever tastier when you eat them while viewing the TV miniseries Feast of All Saints (2001) based on Anne's Rice's The Feast of All Saints and tales place in New Orleans during the 1840's The film and the novel are about the gens de couleur libres (free people of color) who were the descendants of many of the original settlers and their African slave mistresses.

Huesos de Santo (Bones of the Saints)

Candy Roll Ingredients

large potato

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup water 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest ½ tsp grated orange zest 1 cup finely ground almonds

Filling Ingredients

6 egg yolks 6 TB sugar 4 TB water

Coating Ingredients

1 cup sugar 1/2 cup water 2 tsp lemon juice


1. Boil potato in its skin until cooked. Set potato aside until it is cool enough to handle. Skin potato and force 1/2 of it through a sieve (your should have about 1/2 cup of sieved potato).

2. Combine sugar, water, and lemon zest in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until mixture boils. Continue to cook until mixture has reached the hard-ball stage and syrup has thickened and lightly darkened. Add almonds and potato, stirring mixture with a wooden spoon. Continue cooking until mixture starts to leave side of pan. Remove pan from heat.

3. When mixture has cooled enough to handle, turn out on a floured board or on a piece of marble and flatten to about 1/2". Turn over every half hour until dry (about 2 hours).

4. Roll out candy on a floured board or marble to 1/8" thick. Cut into rectangles 2" x 3". Roll rectangles around the handle of a small wooden spoon to form a cylindrical bone. Remove bone from handle and place seam side down on a cookie sheet. Allow to dry overnight.

5. Beat egg yolks until lemon colored. Combine sugar, and water in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until mixture boils. Continue cooking until mixture reaches the hard-ball stage. Gradually add egg yolks in a thin steam while beating mixture with a whisk. Continue cooking until mixture stiffness, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Cook. Ladle mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain 1/4" tube and fill bones with filling.

6. Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add lemon juice. Whisk until syrup turns white, thickens, and forms a ball. Remove ball from pot and allow to cool.

Makes 6 Huesos

© 2012 Gordon Nary


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