There is a special charm in breaking routine and doing unexpected things.
The Three Kings is a Spanish Christmas time tradition that is ( in normal times) celebrated with huge, spectacular parades in all the cities, towns and villages both large and small, where sweets and gifts are distributed to everyone.
People walk the streets and reach the main avenues and squares carrying stairs, to be able to stand out above the second or third row of people, hoping to take away a bag of sweets or another gift. Because in Spain it is not the Baby Jesus , Santa Claus or Saint Nicholas who sets the rules on Christmas Day, but the Three Wise Men, whose generosity is verified every January 6, Epiphany day. Children, families, and entire cities across the country celebrate this important Spanish Christmas tradition .
Traditions of the Magi
With Christmas lights brightening the streets, Christmas scenes in different places, and Christmas carols setting the scene, the Spanish celebrate the arrival of the Three Kings with a joyous parade called the Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos. The Kings go on horseback or on elaborate floats and throw gifts to the children lined up in the streets. This is also the great opportunity for children to ask the Kings for toys.
That afternoon, before going to bed early, the children leave their shoes in a place where the Magi can see them safely. These religious monarchs, like Santa Claus, love sweets, so Spanish children usually leave some sweets to attract the Three Kings, as well as straw to feed their camels.
In the morning, the children are excited to discover that the Kings have eaten the sweets, the camels have eaten the straw, and next to their shoes were the gifts waiting to be opened. The magical night closes with another Spanish Christmas tradition: the typical breakfast with “Roscón de Reyes”, a circular cake decorated with fruits that symbolise the precious stones that adorned the elaborate clothes of the regal trio.
History of the Magi
This celebration has its origin in the New Testament, where it is said that the Kings Melchior, Gaspar and Baltasar travelled during the night from the most remote corners of the earth to bring gifts to Jesus, whom they recognised as the Son of God.
Apart from the majesty, the Magi are also described as wise men. They came from three different places following the light from the Star of Bethlehem, which, they say, hung for several days above the manger where Jesus was born.
In 1885, the Spanish Government called for a parade to honour this special holiday. While the traditional scriptures say that myrrh, gold and incense were given to the baby Jesus, nowadays the Kings are more inclined to bring more practical candies and gifts.
However, it remains a very emotional tradition and is the longest parade in Spain.