6.1.16

January 6th, Three Kings Day

Traditionally, Spanish children do not get their presents on Christmas Day from Santa Claus, or Papa Noel, as he is called. They have to wait until the Fiesta de Los Reyes. What we would call Epiphany. By now we’re packing our Christmas decorations away, but the Spanish are still partying.

In the run up to the 6th of January, children can meet the wise men at some department stores and tell them what they would like for Christmas, just as our children tell Santa Claus. On the 5th, the excitement starts in the late afternoon or early evening when there is often a parade through the streets of camels, yes, real ones, carrying the three kings, Melchor, Gazpar and Baltasar, who throw sweets into the watching crowds. A custom that no doubt started in Moorish times. A whole procession of dancers and musicians, trailers and even floats, will follow. Children run around with their little bags catching their gifts. It is truly a sight to see. The little girls dress up in their flamenco dresses, little boys as kings or drummer boys. And the shops remain open until after midnight.

Before going to bed the children leave their shoes on the door step so that the Kings will know who to leave presents for. Some Spanish families are starting to put presents under a Christmas tree, perhaps because there are too many to put in a shoe. And just as British children leave a mince pie and a drink for Santa and his reindeer, Spanish children also put out something to eat and drink for Melchor, Gaspar, and Baltazar, and water and grass for their camels. Well they do have a lot of work to do that night.

The children wake in great excitement the next morning to find their presents. For breakfast or after lunch, families eat the typical dessert of the day, the ‘Roscón de los Reyes’. This is a large ring shaped cake or sweet bread that is decorated with candied fruits, symbolic of the emeralds and rubies that adorned the robes of the three kings, sometimes a gold paper crown is often provided to decorate the cake. Hidden inside it are surprises ‘sorpresas’.


The one who finds the lucky prize is King or Queen for the day while he who ends up with the unlucky bean is expected to pay for next years Kings’ Cake – and they are not cheap!

We usually attend a wonderful day out watching a drama take place in the village square where King Herod is ordering his men to search for baby Jesus. There's a fair and market and lots of activities going on, people in fancy dress, very medieval and great fun.


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