Not ready to say goodbye to the Holidays? Well today must be your lucky day because, in Spain, they’re not over yet!
The Reyes Magos (Three Kings Day) is a celebration which holds almost greater importance than Christmas in Spain and takes place on the 6th of January. In Anglophone countries, this holiday is better known as the Epiphany and celebrates the arrival of the Three Kings in Bethlehem.
In Madrid, on the evening of 5th of January (known as La Adoración de los Reyes Magos), the party begins with the Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos (Three King’s Parade), one of the largest events of the year. The main thoroughfare of the city, La Castellana, is shut down and children and their families stake out the best spots well beforehand, ready to witness the reenactment of the arrival of the Three Kings into Bethlehem! The Kings ride in on horses or elaborate floats, surrounded by acrobats and music, and throw candy to the breathless crowd below. It’s 100% worth going to, if only to see the camels!
Later that night, post wonderment and sugar rush, the children put out shoes for the Kings to leave the presents in and, as an offering and pick-me-up, they also put out drinks and food for the Kings and their camels.
It is traditional to eat a Roscón de Reyes for breakfast, which is a ring-shaped cake decorated with fruits (symbolizing gems) that is sometimes filled with a cream. Inside the cake, two plastic figurines are hidden, a faba bean and a King. Whoever has the piece of cake with the king or queen in is said to have good luck for the rest of the year, while the person who gets the faba bean has to pay for the Roscón.
The celebration stems from the New Testament which stated that the Three Kings, Melchor,Gaspar, and Balthasar traveled by night to bring gifts to the baby Jesus, whom they recognized as the son of God. In 1885 the Spanish government marked the Epiphany with a parade, and it remains a beloved tradition and the longest standing parade in Spain.
Happy three kings day everyone!