At this very moment, small children all over Spain are excitedly awaiting a glimpse of the Reyes Magos, the Three Kings (or Wise Men) who, according to Spanish tradition, bring children's presents tonight.
Depending on the size of each town hall's budget (deficit), the Reyes arrived in stately fashion on camels, elephants, or, in the case of our local village, a float pulled by a tractor. Each one has his own band of followers.
This cabalgata (procession) is planned over many months, with elaborate decorations and popular themes, based on tales or cartoon characters. The children on the floats are chosen and have to make their own costumes, designed around the theme.
The Reyes and their helpers throw sweets and small presents (the 0.50 euro from the chino type), and most people take along plastic bags to catch their spoils as they fly through the air. The mess left afterwards, of sweet wrappers, plastic packets etc is shocking (litter bins are anathema to the Spanish), although most ayuntamientos are pretty swift in removing it.
We had a preview of the whole excitement a few days ago, when the Cartera Real came to another town nearby, to collect the children's letters with reports on their behaviour over the past year (have you been naughty or nice?) and their present requests.
Our cabalgata was setting out at 4.30, so we'd better head off now... Happy Reyes!