Three Kings is the last of the Christmas celebrations each year and for many of the Spanish, it’s the most important celebration, and certainly one that the kids look forward to the most as this is when they receive their presents!
So what happens during the Three Kings festival (Fiesta de los Reyes)?
This festival is generally celebrated over a two-day period. The first of which is celebrated on the evening of January 5th, where in many Spanish towns you will see a celebration of the arrival of the three wise men, following the birth of baby Jesus. This scene is re-enacted with large parades featuring mechanical floats, the three wise men (with giant paper mache heads) and various accompanying and colourfully clad participants who also feature in the parades. Sweets are thrown out by the ‘kings’ from the floats for the children to catch. It’s certainly a joyful and colourful scene to behold!
The following day, January 6th is an important public holiday and a day when children receive their second set of gifts, this time from the Three Kings. It must certainly be an expensive time of year for Spanish parents eeek! There are many similarities to Christmas in terms of children writing letters, good children receiving gifts and bad children receiving a lump of coal. And similar to Santa Claus (Papa Noel), children leave snacks and refreshments for the Three Kings and their exhausted camels on the eve of the 6th.
The day of the 6th is a public holiday and is spent feasting at home with the family and enjoying watching the children unwrap their presents.
Many people tend to extend the festive period and head back to work only after Three Kings, which is great for us international folks as we also get an extra few days to enjoy the Christmas tree and before starting the dreaded January diet!