Monday, January 5, 2009

Fiesta de los Reyes Magos

Today is the start of the major Christmas celebration in Spain - Epiphany. Tonight the children hang their stockings up to receive gifts, not from Santa, but from the three kings, Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. The celebration starts with the arrival of the kings on the evening of 5th January. Yesterday was dull and cloudy and ended with torrential rain from tea-time until we went to bed, so everyone was concerned for the parades today. But we needn't have worried. This morning dawned bright and sunny, and it stayed that way all day. We decided that as we will be in our own village for their parade next year, this year we would try somewhere else, so we went to Garrucha. Being a fishing village, it was reasonable for the kings to arrive on a fishing boat! When it arrived at the harbour, the kings were transferred onto three elaborate floats, designed to look like a horse-drawn sleigh, one pulled by an elephant, and the one carrying a very dark-skinned king was drawn by camels. As they processed slowly along the main street they tossed copious sweets with gay abandon into the crowd. Each king had several large sacks of sweets and the children had carrier bags to collect them in. By the end of the parade we saw children who had at least a couple of kilos of sweets in their bags. The Spanish are obviously not as concerned as us about the their children's weight or their teeth! (I read on the internet that, at the larger parade in Madrid, 7000 kilos of sweets are distributed). At the end of the parade the kings go to the town hall where they distribute gifts to the children (previously supplied by their parents).
While we were waiting for the parade to start, we walked around a small 'artisanal' fair along the sea front. There were stalls selling hand-made candles, jewellry, toys, hats and other novelties, and food stalls with a range of cakes, bread, herbs, teas and coffees. We bought half of a huge loaf which will last us for a week, as well as a big wedge of fruit bread. Then I chose some interesting drinks - tea with chocolate and rosehip, and white mint tea, and Chris bought five litres of local wine for €6. That should keep him quiet for a while. We had lovely kebabs for our supper and then followed the parade and watched a short firework display before heading for home.
For more photos, see my gallery on

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