In Spain, the tradition of gift giving at Christmas is particularly special for children. They are the ones who await most eagerly the arrival of the Three Wise Men, who come in through the windows house by house, sharing out presents in just one night. They are not the only ones to have a good time, however. Grown-ups cannot help becoming infected by their happiness during the preparations for the big day: 6 January.
Sharing the exciting wait with them is a gift of love and emotion. This Christmas tradition fills the little ones’ days with unforgettable magic.
First of all, children have to write their letter to the Three Wise Men, saying which presents they would like them to bring. After this comes one of the favourite moments: giving the letter in. They can either give the letter to the Wise Men personally when they arrive “officially” on 5 January, or to the emissaries and royal postmen to be found in the centre of all Spanish towns a few days before. They will be asked if they have been good at school and at home, because naughty children get left coal instead of presents. Although, in truth, it is a “sweet” punishment because the coal is made of sugar.
When the long-awaited day finally arrives, the whole family come out onto the street to receive the Wise Men. They arrive with a traditional parade, riding through the streets on their camels, loaded with presents and accompanied by royal pages who throw sweets and goodies to the children. One by one, the delightful floats pass by, decorated with bright colours and inspired in popular children’s characters. The little ones will love them. All the while, a band brings joy to the celebration with Christmas songs and carols. The spectacle of joy, light and colour, combined with the smiles of the children, make for a feeling of complete happiness.
There are parades celebrated all over Spain on this day. Each has its own particular style, depending on where you are. In Barcelona, for example, the Three Wise Men arrive by sea, while in the village of Alarilla, in Guadalajara, they are daring enough to arrive by hang-glider and paraglider. Or why not see the parade in Alcoi, Alicante, the oldest in Spain?
Three Kings’ Night
After the parade, children go to bed early but excited, to wait for Melchoir, Caspar and Balthazar to come in through the window and leave presents in their shoes. First they should put water and bread on the windowsill for the camels to eat and drink while the Wise Men do their work.
Come and experience Christmas in Spain and discover this magical tradition that will fill your children with joy. Let them get carried away by all the moments of joy, surprise and tender happiness to be found in our country at this festive time. Now is your chance. Make the most of it.