Three Kings day - Spanish holiday

Holidays and Traditions

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Some countries have kept family reunions separate from the present-giving commercial part of Christmas. Here in Catalonia the 25th and 26th of December are family days with nice meals and maybe a visit to church, but presents come on Three Kings day, or to be more precise on the night of the 5th and morning of the 6th of January.

Throughout Spain the Three Kings arrive from the Orient on horses, camels and boats and parade through the streets of towns and cities distributing the presents which all good children have asked them for in letters posted in the days before. The procession takes different forms but always involves music, dancing, singing, candles or firecrackers and lots of sweets distributed by the various Kings and their helpers, usually seated on grand carriages.

Here in Girona the Kings set up camp outside town on the 5th where children can go to post their letters and see their exotic entourage before the procession starts in late afternoon, once it is dark. The streets are lined with excited children all singing and shouting and parents vying for the best spots to film and catch sweets.

No public celebration is complete without a traditional food, in this case a "Coca de Reis" which is a round sweet doughnut shaped cake with different fillings of cream or marzipan. The person that bites on the small ceramic figure hidden in their slice has good luck for the year ahead and usually encourages multiple slices until it has been discovered.

Children have a few days to play with their new toys before school begins on the 8th and parents have to face the sad reality of extra kilos and empty bank accounts!

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