Three Kings Day, or Dia de los Reyes in Spanish, falls on January 6. It’s the day that most children in Spain receive their Christmas presents.
While children from other parts of the world eagerly await Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, here in Spain the jolly bearded man takes a backseat to the three kings of biblical lore. Although they may receive a small gift or two on Christmas Day, the big day for presents is on January 6, or Epiphany.
On the eve of January 5, children leave their shoes by the door with hopes that the three kings will leave gifts inside during their overnight visit. In the days leading up to Epiphany, children write letters to the Three Kings asking them for gifts. The day before Three Kings Day is a day for parades and processions throughout Spain.
The young and young-at-heart alike line the streets all eager to get a glimpse of the kings. The parades represent the journey made by the travellers on camels to Bethlehem. The Three Kings throw sweets into the crowd, many of whom hold upside-down umbrellas to try and catch as many as possible.
Another essential part of Three Kings Day in Spain is the roscon de los reyes, or kings’ cake. The ring-shaped pastry is decorated to look like a crown that a king would wear. It is often topped with glazed fruits, representing the colourful jewels on a crown. Buried inside it is a toy, often a figurine of baby Jesus or a tiny king. The person who finds it in their piece is said to have good luck for the year.