Men Bearing Gifts: Celebrating Three Kings Day

Until I moved to live in Spain, January 6th only meant one thing to me – the twelfth night – or, more importantly, the day you are meant to have all your Christmas decorations packed away until next year.

three kings parade[Image credit: Flickr (CC) Paul and Jill]

Now, of course, I know that it’s the day that La Fiesta de Los Reyes takes place throughout Spain to celebrate the day the Three Kings arrived in Bethlehem to present the baby Jesus with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.   It is also the most important day for Spanish children, as they receive their festive gifts from the Three Kings rather than Father Christmas (although every year Santa is becoming increasingly popular).

The fun starts on the previous evening, usually with processions passing though most towns and cities.  During the late afternoon, the crowds grow in anticipation of the arrival of the Three Kings on huge motorised floats, horseback, camels or, in the case of my local mountain village a year or two ago – in the back of a police car!

three kings float[Image credit: (cc) Paul and Jill]

As daylight fades away, you might hear the drums and music of the approaching parade, heralding the arrival of the Three Kings.

People on the floats throw boiled sweets towards the waiting crowds on either side.  But beware!  Some of the younger people on the floats can be rather enthusiastic throwers, with sweets being hurled out like missiles!  If you’re not careful you’ll get your eye taken out!  Many in the crowd come prepared, holding up-turned umbrellas to catch the booty, whilst others just scrabble around the ground, stuffing the fallen sweets in their pockets or bags.

It´s quite a sight to see adults scuttling around grabbing sweets off the floor totally without embarrassment – in fact, it´s easy to get caught up in the excitement of it all!

After the parade, most families head home where, before going to bed,  the children will put out something nice to eat and drink for the Three Kings, plus water for their camels. They also leave out their best pair of shoes to be filled with presents.  The next morning, if the children have been good then they will find presents in and around their shoes, if not, then only a lump of coal will have been left for them – though I suspect that doesn´t happen very often.

Roscon de Reyes

On January 6th, most families gather around the table to enjoy their Roscón de Reyes.   This is a ring-shaped bun or sweet bread, sugar-frosted and decorated with fruit flavoured jellies and fruit. The bun is sliced in half and filled with a mock cream mixture.  Hidden somewhere in the cream will be a novelty such as small model king and, if you are lucky enough to find one of the hidden figurines in your portion, then tradition has it that you will be blessed with good luck for the coming year.  Though I guess it would be bad luck if you inadvertently swallowed it and choked!

Belen in Malaga Town Hall

Nativity scene at Malaga Town HallThis is also the final opportunity to see one of the many Belénes (Nativity scenes) around the town or city.  I photographed this one inside Málaga Town Hall (Ayuntamiento de Málaga) last Sunday.  There was quite a queue to get in by the time I left.

Queue of people to see the Belen at Malaga Town Hall

Which is your favourite fiesta or festival?

You might also like to look at:

My Travel Reflections on 2013

Malaga’s Urban Street Art

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10 Spanish words to help you through Christmas: Las palabras navideñas

Abstract christmas tree in Malaga

 

 

1.  Merry Christmas – Feliz Navidad

2.  Christmas Eve – La Nochebuena

3.  Angels – Los ángeles

4.  Christmas wreath – La corona de Navidad

5.  Star – La estrella

6.  The Wise Men – Los Reyes Magos

7.  Gift or present – El regalo

8.  Christmas tree – El árbol de Navidad

9.  Candle – La vela

10. Snow – La nieve

 

Which Spanish word do you most associate with Christmas?

 

Image credit: (Flickr cc) Abstract Christmas tree in Málaga Bogdan Migulski

 

Ski-ing in the Sierra Nevada mountains, Granada, Spain

Sierra Nevada, SpainImage credit: Javier Martin (Wikipaedia CC)

The 2013-2014 winter season opens tomorrow, November 23rd, at the Sierra Nevada Ski Station in the province of Granada, Spain.

The Sierra Nevada (snowy mountain) is Europe’s most southerly and sunniest ski resort with more than 80% of sunny days each year.   There are more than 104 kilometres of trails, 116 ski runs and 22 ski lifts to ensure you enjoy the biggest snow park in Spain!

The lower end of the resort village, Pradollano, lies 2100 metres above sea level with the top station at 3300m.

The Sierra Nevada Ski Station also boasts the greatest skiable vertical drop in Spain at 1200 metres.  

The resort is situated 27 kilometres from the city of Granada and, with ski-ing available from late November to early May, it’s possible to enjoy ski-ing and swimming in the Mediterranean Sea (only 100 kilometres away) on the same day.  

Now there’s a challenge for you!

Where’s your favourite ski resort?

 

Related articles:

Project Piste 2 Playa: Granada’s Ultimate Day-trip

Classic Andalucía: La Alhambra, Granada

The Alhambra Palace, Granada

¡Feliz Navidad!

Looking across to Frigiliana, Spain

This is the view from the terrace of Los Caracoles Restaurant and Hotel, on the scenic road from Torrox pueblo to the pretty, mountain village of Frigiliana.    Towards the bottom left you can see the white village (pueblo blanco) of Frigiliana and, over to the right, the nearby town of Nerja, with the Mediterranean Sea in the background.

This view never fails to take my breath away …. no matter how many times I see it!

And it’s exactly the kind of view that’s typical of a sunny Christmas Day, here in southern Spain.

My Christmas wish for all my readers and followers is that love, hope and happiness fill your hearts this holiday season, and may all your dreams and wishes have wings.

¡Feliz Navidad! 

This post is my response to the Travel Theme: Festive and Sunday Post: Christmas.

Whilst you’re here, you might also like to look at:

A Celebration of Fried Breadcrumbs

AVE: Taking the Fast Track from Málaga to Madrid

CBBH Challenge: SIMPLE PLEASURES

A Celebration of Fried Breadcrumbs: Migas Festival in Torrox pueblo

You might not expect ingredients for the perfect Christmas party to include 2000 kilos of flour, 500 litres of olive oil and 3000 litres of sweet Moscatel wine, but that´s exactly what´s required  to cater for the 40,000 guests who visit the annual  Migas Festival in the village of Torrox.

Many towns and cities throughout the world have unique dishes that encompass their overall culture and tradition.  Migas is a traditional Andalucían peasant dish often made from breadcrumbs, although in Torrox the migas are made with flour.  Normally served as an accompaniment to a main dish, of fried fish for instance, migas comprises of fried bread crumbs liberally laced with garlic, and may also contain small pieces of chorizo, ham or peppers.

Each year, on the last Sunday before Christmas, (so, this coming Sunday – December 23rd 2012)  this gastronomic festival which has been declared of “National Tourist Interest” by the Junta de Andalucía, will serve more than 40,000 visitors. 

Whoever said “there is no such thing as a free lunch”,  obviously had never visited Torrox pueblo!

From early in the morning, teams of cooks prepare the migas for free distribution to local residents and visitors to the festival.  The ringing of a bell is the signal for everyone to come and collect their plate of migas, which is served with a glass of local wine and an “arriera” salad  (made with oranges,  tomatoes, potatoes, onions and olives) to accompany the meal.

There is plenty to do during a day at the Migas festival  because as well as free food and drink there are many craft stalls, traders selling fine cheeses, chorizo, cakes, nuts and sweets, the opportunity to enjoy guided walks through the village, and street artists, as well as choirs and local dance groups, who all help to create a wonderful festive atmosphere.

Of course, in true Spanish tradition, this is just another excuse for a party, but on a warm, sunny December day, why would you not pursue that with some vigor?

(BTW – didn´t they do well getting Angeline Jolie to pose for last  year´s poster?  😉

You might also enjoy:

La Noche de San Juan: Families, fires and football!

The heart of Cómpeta: El Paseo de las Tradiciones

CBBH Photo Challenge: Simple Pleasures