Categorized | Spanish Celebrations

The holidays may be over for you…

Posted on 05 January 2013 by American expat!

Back home, the holidays are Over with a capital O. Come January 2nd, gifts have already been returned, re-gifted, put into use or put away. The new year has been rung in and work resumes uninterrupted. But not here – the holidays are still in full swing. Today, January 5th, there is an additional Xmas holiday, the biggest of them all, called Three Kings Day.

The premise is that January 6 is the Epiphany day, the actual day that Catholics thinks the baby Jesus was born (because remember the 25th was the Pagan Yule and solstice holiday, so in the Church’s takeover of power, it was easier to steamroll the Pagan traditions if they matched up the birth of baby Jesus with the Pagan holidays). Baby J supposedly received gifts from the “three kings”, or scholars: One Baylonian, one Persian and one Arab. You might recognize these guys in all your Anglo Saxon tradition as the three wise men.

This is celebrated with a parade (who doesn’t love a parade?), where candies are chucked by the handfuls into the crowds from each float sporting a king of sorts in some arab/persian robage. But the big to do for the children is that this is the day the three kings visit every single home and fills their shoes with either toys and candy, or for the bad kids, coal and camel poop. Children prep for the visit by placing their grass or hay filled shoes in the living room along with a bowl of water for the camels. Beside it they put a plate of turrons and glasses of cava (Spanish champagne). This is the day that the presents appear under the Xmas tree.

To properly celebrate this holiday–because a candy chucking parade through the entire city clearly isn’t enough–there are the ubiquitous fireworks, singing, special pastries and cakes, dancing, costumes and elaborate floats. Oh yeah, and here in Barcelona, the Kings actually arrive by boat to attend their parade. I think it pretty much beats our Santa Claus in that it’s not only bigger and better, but it is actually a community event, as so many things are here. So while I was officially over the holidays by 10pm on New Years Eve, I can appreciate the enthusiasm still coursing through this city for this final Xmas shin dig.

Here is a video of the parade I pulled from YouTube to give you an idea of what I am about to navigate through as I make my way to a birthday party. Enjoy.

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