The sixth of January is a big event in all of Spain especially for kids for this is the day they are to receive gifts.
Yes that’s right. It’s the three wise men from the orient who are in charge of gift-giving, not Santa Claus.
On the eve of 5 January, there is a cabalgata de Reyes Magos or the procession of the Three Kings. Each city or town has its own parade where the Three Kings, in full regalia, arrive by horses or floats.
Children are accompanied by their parents to the parade holding plastic bags because candies and small toys are thrown their way.
Melchor, Gaspar, Balthazar. We have memorized their names back in grade school along with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. I have asked my two Spanish classmates who their favorite king is. One likes Melchor the best while the other prefers Balthazar.
Children who have been bad or good will be judged wisely by the Three Kings. On the eve of the Three Kings, kids are encouraged to sleep early. Well this is so their parents, who are the true judges if they’ve been bad or good, could put in their gifts in one of their shoes left in any part of the house. Kids normally leave a glass of milk and some biscuits for the Three Kings to snack on since they will get tired and hungry from all their gift-giving duties. The following day, kids will be thrilled to open up what they’ve gotten from the Kings. God I would have loved to be a kid if only for these gifts! Christmas and The Three Kings is only truly awesome if you’re a kid. True story.
And as tradition dictates, Roscón de Reyes is also served on the eve of The Three Kings. This round pastry is decorated with dried figs, cherries and candied fruits to symbolize the precious stones in a King’s crown.
Eating it is all where the fun begins. There are two figures hidden in the roscón, one is a figure of baby Jesus or one of the Three Kings. The symbolism for the infant Jesus figurine being tucked in the roscón is about being hidden away from the wrath of King Herod who ordered that all infant males recently born be killed fearing the prediction that a King to the Jews has been born. Whoever gets this figurine of the infant Jesus or one of the Three Kings is King for the day.
The other figurine is that of a dry faba bean. Whoever finds it in their slice of roscón will have to pay for next year’s roscón.
We ate the roscón last night along with cava, the Spanish champagne. The roscón is also traditionally eaten for breakfast on the Day of the Three Kings. This morning, I saw one of the Three King’s figurine on the kitchen counter top and the last slice of roscón has yet to be eaten by me so I was sure to get the faba bean. Lucky enough there was no faba bean in my slice haha! The roscón Lola has bought wouldn’t have passed QC since it’s missing the faba bean. Anyway had I gotten it, I wouldn’t be here in Spain by then. 😉