We Three Kings
King’s Day, the celebration of “Three Kings” or El Día De Los Reyes 6th January every year, is treated with more importance that the 25th December. El día de los Reyes is a day that is anticipated for months before. It’s the day that Spain celebrate the three Kings, or the three wise men, who brought their gifts to the new born baby Jesus. The Spanish keep the tradition of gift giving on this day, children may receive a gift on Christmas Eve but the main presents that they have wished for all year will be presented to them on the 6th January.
The Three Kings, Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar, play the same role that Santa Claus does in many countries – they are the ones that bring the gifts – and children write their letters to them to explain how good they have been and to request the presents they want.
Children leave drinks out for the Kings on the night of the 5th, and food for their camels, for this is how they travelled according to the bible. They also leave their shoes outside the front door, in the hope they will be filled with small gifts or sweets.
King’s day is always on 6th January, but the processions take place the evening before, all over Spain. They are called Cabalgatas. Every town and village has them, but the largest are in the cities on the mainland and they can attract hundreds of thousands of people.
The Three Kings travel through the streets, throwing festive sweets out for the many children who have lined the street to get a glance at the mystical figures. Then they will stop somewhere to give the kids a chance to request their favourite presents for the following morning. The procession will be going by street entertainers, torch bearers and finished off with a spectacular fire work display.
On the day of the 5th you will see hoards of people beelining their way to local bakeries throughout Spain and its territories to buy a traditional cake called a Roscon de Reyes. It’s a ring donut shape that is decorated with candied fruit and filled with either cream or vanilla custard.
In the cream layer, there will be a toy or a figure of baby Jesus and a bean, and in the cake box there will be a crown. The person who gets the toy, wears the crown and becomes King of the celebration, and the person who gets the bean has to buy next year’s Roscon de Reyes.