Día de los Reyes Magos
Christmas time in Spain is just as magical and wonderful as it is in the United States. Every city puts up a tree, festive lights are hung from the buildings, and children look forward to playing with toys on Christmas morning…
Oh wait, that last one doesn’t apply to Spain.
Gifts are most certainly brought, just not by Santa Claus on Christmas Eve night. Rather, it’s the Three Wise Men that visit homes and leave gifts the night before the twelfth day of Christmas aka Three Kings Day - el Día de los Reyes Magos.
I happened to be in a small port town in southern Spain called El Puerto de Santa María on January 5th, the day before Three Kings Day, and was treated to a spectacular show of festivities prepared for the occasion.
As I wandered through the narrow cobblestone streets, I suddenly found myself in the midst of Christmas music and crowds of children and families huddled together trying to catch a glimpse of the floats passing by for the Three Kings Parade. Children in costumes sitting on the floats tossed out candies, and the children in the crowd scrambled around with bags, gathering up as many pieces as they could and squealing with joy as they counted their treasures.
After the last float passed, I fell in line behind it and followed it to its destination - el Castillo de San Marcos. The magnificent castle was decorated with flags to welcome the Three Kings, who climbed up and stood between the stone pillars, telling the story of their visit to baby Jesus, and tossing out gifts to the children below. Jolly music and merry singing filled the air, along with puffs of “snow” and colorful confetti. The happiness of everyone there was palpable and infectious.
It was an absolutely marvelous celebration, and an experience I would highly recommend to all Spain travelers!