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. Locally, the three kings: Melchor, Gazpar and Baltasar, arrive by sea at Garrucha in the evening, then parade through the streets and 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, drummers or shepherd 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. 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. The 6th itself is fiesta day when there are often medieval fairs held, and celebrations of all kinds. Great fun for all the family.

A play is held in the town square which tells the story of Herod ordering his roman soldiers to seek out this new king which has been born.

There are stalls selling trinkets, toys, food and other goodies.

You can see potters and craftsmen going about their work. There are donkeys, geese and turkeys on display, giving a real biblical feel to the fair.

 Next come musicians, jugglers and jokers with games for the children to play on this special day. Always lots of sweets and fun for the children.

The medieval fool helps the children act out a pay with a dragon, knights and moors. All to rescue a princess, of course. Very like the mummer's play we do in the UK.

After lunch, families eat the typical dessert of the day, the ‘Rosc√≥n 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!

January 7 is a very quiet day in Spain. No businesses open, everyone at home in recovery.

Happy Three King's Day everyone.