Fiesta de Los Reyes.
There is quite a debate raging across this country regarding whether Santa Claus is displacing the traditional Three Kings at Christmastime in Spain. The truth is that Santa Claus is becoming more and more common, but even families that sign up with “Papa Noel” usually keep their accounts open with the Kings.
And as for the Kings themselves, they continue to arrive on schedule every year to villages, towns and cities throughout Andalucia (and the rest of Spain) to make the annual parade (cabalgata), which usually starts at dusk on the 5th January through the centre of urban areas. Melchor, Gazpar and Baltasar (the African king) are magically able to appear simultaneously throughout this entire land as evening falls on the Iberian Peninsula, and they don’t come empty handed. As their royal magesties parade about town with their entourage of locals smiling and waving from trucks, trailers and even floats (depends on local resources) they dutifully toss out handfuls of sweets to the children waiting in the streets at they pass. If you take little ones to the parade, be sure to bring along bags to handle the accumulation of little treasures they will certainly want to take home (even though usually these sweets are not very good quality).
That same night of January 5th children are supposed to leave their shoes out the night before to receive the gifts. However, nowadays some families are actually turning to the Christmas tree as the place to pile gifts as the Kings’ spending power grows and shoes can no longer support the weight or volume of the their delivery.
Some families set up their nativity scene in such a way as to be able to move the images of the wise men closer and closer to Bethlehem over the Christmas season. The idea is to have them arrive at the stable right on the 6th.
The Cabalgata de Reyes de Higuera de la Sierra is the second oldest in Spain and classified as a Festival of Tourist Interest in Andalusia. More >
THE 6TH OF JANUARY IN ANDALUCIA
Breakfast is a special occasion on January 6th with the Three Kings’ Cake ( Roscón de Reyes) the centre of attention. This is a sweet bread that is adorned with dried fruits and sugar. Inside, bakers have hidden a small prize wrapped in paper as well as a bean. The one who finds the lucky prize is supposed to be King or Queen for the day (a gold paper crown is often provided with the cake) while he who ends up with the unlucky bean is expected to pay for next years Kings’ Cake – and considering that some of these cakes go for about 20 times the price of a loaf of regular, unsweetened bread (if you buy at a bakery instead of the supermarket), that could be an unhappy lot.
January 6th is a very special day througout our region as it is a day for family to come together for a special meal, gift exchanges and time together. It is very much like Christmas Day in North America or northern European countries. Nowadays, Both Christmas Day and January 6th are getting about equal celebration with the children’s gifts often divided between the two days – except in families on the “No Santa” side of the debate who persist in clinging to the old traditions thus making the kids wait until that very last day of the Christmas holidays for their presents. January 6th is a national public holiday. However if the 6th falls on a Sunday (as 2019) the national holiday is moved to Monday 7th January.