Epiphany in Spain after pandemic years finally traditional again

by Lorraine Williamson
Epiphany - https://www.flickr.com/photos/pauljill/5402965371

The largest children’s party in Spain is coming up: Reyes Magos, or Epiphany, is celebrated in Spain on January 5 and 6. For the first time since the pandemic, the Spaniards can celebrate this national celebration as it was once conceived. 

Especially the children in Spain often look forward to this party. During Epiphany, the kids often receive many gifts and all Spaniards have a day off on January 6. However, this edition of Epiphany will feel extra special. January 5 parades and January 6 celebrations will feel back to normal after the restrictions of the last two years.

Spanish municipalities are releasing restrictions and restoring traditions 

The municipality of Madrid has already announced it has purchased 2.5 tons of sweets to hand out during the parade. This year’s sweets are gluten-free and the wrappers are biodegradable. Barcelona is also going for it this year. The three kings will travel through the city on a double-decker bus. This will be followed by some 1,200 people who will help hand out a whopping 7 tons of sweets. 

Other municipal authorities from various regions in Spain, such as Galicia, Cantabria, Valencia and Murcia, have announced that they are bringing back the traditional parades. There will be no restrictions on the number of visitors. Plenty of food and drink will be distributed and available. Also, unlike in recent years, the three kings will simply walk around and be accessible to the public. 

Also read: Malaga´s King Balthazar

What exactly does Spain celebrate during Epiphany? 

The three kings (or sages) are Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar. These three kings bring presents for the children who have been well behaved. And, for the naughty children, the old tales say they are given black coals. However, they are made from sugar for this occasion. 

According to tradition, children write in a letter which gifts they would like to receive and why they deserve them. They then deliver this letter during the parade of the three kings, or in the days leading up. On the evening of the fifth, the streets are filled with families catching up with the three kings in the parade called the ‘Cabalgata de Reyes’. The kings are welcomed with fantastically decorated floats and small gifts and sweets are distributed to the watching crowds.

After watching the parade, the children go to bed and anxiously wait for the three kings to pass by at night. Just before bed, the children prepare water and bread to be left at the windowsill for the camels that accompany the three kings from house to house. As they go to sleep, the question is what gifts will they find in the morning. 

The day the children look forward to the most is often January 6 because it is finally time to see what gifts they have received. This day has been declared a public holiday, therefore, all Spaniards have the day off and the kids can play with their toys all day long. 

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