While children in the U.S. wait for Santa Claus to arrive on December 25th, children in Spain wait for Los Reyes Magos – the Three Kings – to bring them presents on January 6th.
January 6th is the Feast of the Epiphany, a day that commemorates the arrival of the Three Kings from the East who journeyed to Bethlehem to see the baby Jesus. In many cities throughout Spain, a parade will be held on January 5th to welcome the arrival of the Three Wise Men – Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar – who brought gifts to the newborn baby Jesus. In the major cities the parades can be quite elaborate with colorful floats. Children will line the streets to catch some of the treats that are thrown from the floats, and tell the kings the gifts they are hoping to receive.
Before going to bed, children will leave out shoes, often filled with hay to feed the camels, in hopes that they will be filled with presents the next morning. As tradition has it, children who were good will find the hay replaced with presents, and children that have been naughty will find a lump of coal in their shoes.
After waking up and opening presents, the family will enjoy a traditional cake called the Roscón de Reyes, which is a ring-shaped cake decorated with candied fruits, symbolizing the jewels that adorned the robes of the three kings. The cake is cut into pieces, and one lucky person will find a surprise (sometimes a coin, or a figurine), which will bring the finder good luck throughout the year.
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