¡Hola! Are you ready to learn about one of the most exciting and colorful celebrations in Spain? I’m talking about the Three Kings celebration, also known as El Día de los Reyes Magos. This festival, which takes place on January 6th every year, is a unique and vibrant celebration that marks the end of the Christmas season in Spain.
The Three Kings, also known as the Wise Men or Magi, are an important part of Spanish culture and tradition. According to the Bible, these three wise men traveled from the East to Bethlehem to bring gifts to the newborn baby Jesus. In Spain, the Three Kings, Balthazar, Melchior and Gaspar are celebrated as the ones who bring gifts to children on the night of January 5th. Leading up to this day, the children write letters to the Kings with their wish list to make sure they get what they want. As you walk around any city or village in Spain, you will spot special post boxes or ‘helpers’ of The Three Kings so that the children can drop of or give their letters.
On the evening of January 5th, children all over Spain gather in the streets to watch the parade of the Three Kings. The parade features brightly decorated floats and performers dressed as the Three Kings, as well as other characters from Spanish folklore. The Kings throw sweets and small toys to the children in the crowd, who eagerly collect them.
After the parade, families return home to enjoy a traditional meal together. Children leave their shoes out by the door, along with some water and hay for the camels of the Three Kings. In return, the Kings leave presents and sweets for the children to find when they wake up on January 6th.
In some parts of Spain, there are also special cakes or pastries eaten on the day of the Three Kings. The Roscón de Reyes is a ring-shaped cake made with candied fruit and filled with cream or chocolate. Hidden inside the cake are small figurines of the baby Jesus and a bean. The person who finds the baby Jesus is said to have good luck for the coming year, while the person who finds the bean has to buy the Roscón next year.
Roscón de Reyes
Hold on tight, we’re taking a ride through some of the most exciting regional traditions of the Three Kings celebration in Spain.
First stop: Catalonia! In this region, not only do children get gifts from the Three Kings on January 6th, but they also get presents on December 25th. That’s right, they get two days of gift-giving fun! And let’s not forget about the “caganer” – a quirky character that’s part of the parade, who is, well, let’s just say he’s not shy about doing his business in public!
Next up, we’re headed to Andalusia where things get even more interesting. The Three Kings don’t arrive on camels here, they arrive on horseback! And they don’t just toss sweets to the kids – they throw small toys and gifts into the crowd, making it rain with goodies! And what better way to enjoy the night of January 5th than with a delicious dish called “Roscos de Anis“? These yummy anise-flavored donuts are the perfect way to kick off the Three Kings celebration.
But wait, we’re not done yet! Let’s head over to the Canary Islands, where the Three Kings arrive by boat! That’s right, they sail into town in style, waving to the crowds as they dock their ship. And the celebrations don’t end there – on January 6th, it’s traditional to eat a special cake called “Roscón de Reyes,” which is filled with cream and sometimes has a surprise hidden inside. Will you get the lucky slice with the hidden figurine, or will you get the slice with a bean and have to buy the cake next year? Only time will tell!
Los Reyes Magos arrive to Tenerife. photo credit: Fran Pallero