Having arrived in Spain on Friday 13th January last year (gulp), we sadly missed out on the Three Kings Day parade in Baza. This year though we intended to make amends and thought it might be a good idea to know exactly what Three Kings Day was all about !
So here goes …
Better known as ‘Dia De Los Reyes’ in Spain, Three Kings Day (also known as Epiphany) falls on January 6th every year. Even better, it is a national holiday in Spain 🙂
Three Kings Day marks the day the three kings tracked down baby Jesus 🙂 They are also referred to as three Wise Men or Magi. According to the Gospel of Matthew, they found baby Jesus by following a star across the desert for twelve days to Bethlehem.
The three kings, Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar travelled by camel to present baby Jesus with those three well-known gifts.
But what does this all mean nowadays ?
Basically three kings day is pretty much equivalent to Christmas Day elsewhere in the World.
So whilst Father Christmas may have gone back to the North Pole for another year, it doesn’t mean the present giving (and receiving) is over — at least not for the children of Spain (and Latin American Countries). It is the day that the children of Spain and Latin American countries get presents for Christmastime. Much like children from other parts of the world eagerly await Father Christmas on Christmas Eve night, the same can be said on the eve of January 5.
Instead of stockings, children leave their shoes right outside their doors. The Three Kings leave their presents inside the shoes whilst the bigger presents are placed around them.
Whilst instead of leaving mince pies and milk for Father Christmas, families leave a box of grass (or hay) and water for The Three King’s camels to eat … the camels are known for being a bit messy and leaving a trail of hay behind that children can often follow to their gifts!
Leading up to January 5, children write letters to the three kings asking them for the gifts that they want.
The day before Three Kings Day is a day for parades and processions throughout Spanish towns and cities. The parades represent the journey made by the travelers on camels to Bethlehem. Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar are magically able to appear simultaneously throughout all of Spain, and they don’t come empty-handed. Parading about town they toss out handfuls of sweets to the children waiting in the streets at they pass.
The Big Day
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, baked round to look like a crown that a king would wear. The cake in normally topped with glazed fruits, representing the jewels on a crown.
Inside the cake is traditionally 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 . Whilst whoever ends up with the unlucky bean is expected to pay for next years Kings’ Cake !
The whole day is very special, family come together for a fabulous meal, present swapping and time together.
What I loved about the whole ‘Christmas period’ here is Spain was how understated the whole experience was. Yes, there is shop and street decorations, but it’s all seems far less pressurised. It also appears that January 6th gets more status than Christmas Day, with the children often getting one present on Christmas Day (damn you commercialisation), but the majority of their presents on January 6th … and long may that continue 🙂
So there you have it … everything you need to know about Three Kings Day 🙂
So … Who are one foot in the cave ?
We (Danny and Josie) have spent the last 10 years living and working in the Caribbean. In 2015 we decided we wanted to move closer to family and friends so bought a cave house in the Granada region of Andalucia, Spain. We moved there full time in January 2017. Now we write about our experiences of cave living and how we are adapting to life in Spain.
We also have a Facebook page full of pictures, experiences and information that we have found useful along the way. If it’s your thing, you can also follow us on Instagram 🙂