Welcome to the new year! While half of the readers may have already started putting away their Christmas decorations, in Spain, the festive spirit is still alive. With eager anticipation, Spanish children await the arrival of the Reyes Magos, the Three Kings. The main celebration takes place on January 6, but the grand parade is held on the eve of Reyes, Friday, January 5.
The story of the Three Kings
The Three Kings, also recognized as the Three Wise Men from the East, play a significant role in the Christmas story. Named Gaspar, Baltasar, and Melchor, these kings brought precious gifts of frankincense, myrrh, and gold to the nativity scene for the newborn baby Jesus.
This narrative reaches its peak in the tradition where the Three Kings bring sweets and gifts each year for children who behaved well in the preceding year. The Three Kings Celebration, also known as Epiphany, holds great significance in Spanish culture and is akin to the role of Santa Claus.
Parade and Putting a shoe
On January 5, in various locations across the island, there is a Big Parade of the Three Kings with floats and often accompanied by camels. The Three Kings, along with their entourage, parade through the festively decorated streets, distributing sweets, and collecting the wish lists of children.
In the evening the children can put their shoes outside, accompanied by water and bread for the camels and a glass of milk with turrón (typical nougat) for the Three Kings.
Coal and King's Cake
On January 6, the well-behaved children hope to find sweets and gifts in their shoes. For children who were not well-behaved, the Three Kings leave carbón (coal), a tradition borrowed from Santa Claus. Fortunately, this 'coal' is usually in sugar form and is meant more as a joke or hint that the recipient has been naughty.
Traditionally, the family also enjoys a Roscón de Reyes, the King's Cake, on this day. These cakes usually contain a small figurine and a dry bean, both hidden within the pastry. If you discover a bean in your slice of cake, you are obligated to pay for the King's Cake the following year. The finder of the figurine gets a crown placed on their head, symbolizing the Three Kings.
Where can you watch a parade?
Here are some of the most notable parades taking place on the island on Friday, January 5, 2024:
- Los Cristianos: 8:00 PM, arrival by boat at the port of Los Cristianos. Parade from 8:30 PM to 10:00 PM from the harbor to the Cultural Center
- Adeje: 7:00 PM from Calle Grande
- Puerto de Santiago/Los Gigantes: 6:00 PM from Playa de la Arena
- Santa Cruz de Tenerife: 7:00 PM from Avenida de Bélgica to Plaza de la Candelaria
- Puerto de la Cruz: 7:00 PM from Paseo Luis Lavaggi to Centro Comercial Martíanez
- La Orotava: 8:00 PM from Avenida Mercedes to Plaza del Ayuntamiento.
This is just a selection from the numerous parades organized across the entire island, so please check the online agenda of the municipality where you reside or are vacationing for more detailed information.
Be sure to attend on of the parades; it's a fantastic way to experience the local culture and festivities up close.
¡Feliz Día de Reyes & Hasta Pronto!
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