So Christmas may seem like a distant memory, with only the novelty of presents and an expanded waist line as a reminder of the festive time. And yet, I returned to Spain January 4th feeling that post-Christmas gloom… only to celebrate it again!! Well, Christmas in the Spanish style, known as ‘El dia de los reyes magos’. Now, this day, January 6th was actually a while ago now, but due to poor internet, there was a bit of delay on this post, so we’ll just pretend I posted it last week, as I was supposed to.
So, I’ve put together a list of the top 3 things you can see during the ‘Three King’s Day’, as it is referred to in English.
As a colleague of mine so eloquently explained, “In Spain, the Kings bring the presents, not the big fat beardy Coca-Cola man [Santa – wasn’t sure if I had to clarify that!]” As in the Bible, the Kings bring the presents, and this is the tradition that Spain follows.
Although this doesn’t fulfil Wizzard’s wish of “Christmas every dayyyyyyy”, it does mean that the Spanish can enjoy all the food, festivities and Christmas TV on December 25 and January 6th– pretty good deal!
2) ROSCON DE REYES
This can only be described as a big, sugary donut-like cake. You’ll see these ‘Roscon de Reyes’ everywhere, they are the Christmas pudding of Spain. I went to the supermarket on January 6th, and it was a similar sight to England, but with people making a mad dash for a roscon or two.
The roscon usually is suger-coated pastry filled with cream and topped with fruit (covered in sugar). I did try the roscon with my colleagues, and it’s definitely something to try. However, having a slice during my 10am coffee break meant that the by 11am I was on a considerable sugar high.
Spain also has a fun tradition where the cakes are filled with a little figure, either of Jesus or just a toy. The person that finds the toy (in our case – a little Goofy) receives the toy and the title of king or queen. This honour came complete with a gold card crown that we insisted Ana wear for a while. The other ‘surprise’ in the cake is a bean – a somewhat unlucky surprise as the recipient then has to pay for the roscon!
1) CABALGATA DE LOS REYES
The biggest and most exciting thing you will hear about is the ‘Cabalgata de los reyes’ – the Kings parade, which usually takes place the day before the Dia de Reyes. In towns all over Spain, kids will drag their parents to fill the streets and watch as the Kings go by throwing out sweets to the crowds of people. Usually, this takes place after activities are held for the children somewhere in town.
I didn’t truly understand the excitement of the whole thing until I tried to walk home and ended up battling my way through crowds and crowds of people that had lined the streets an hour early in anticipation for the arrival of the Kings.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to watch the parade but caught glimpses as it passed me by enroute to the supermarket. Worst of all, I received no sweets, but you can’t really fight a 5 year old though. What struck me is that, such is the mentality of keeping things clean in Spain, the parade was followed by a line of road sweepers who swept up the sweet wrappers as they went along. An efficient and effective way of tackling mess around town, I thought.
But that there is your summary to Spanish Christmas – El Dia de los Reyes Magos, a post somewhat delayed but festive all the same, just like January 6th.