5 Jan 2012

Ready for the Kings?

I think the biggest difference between Christmas in most Northern European / American countries and Christmas in Spain / Latin America resides in one night: Twelfth Night. Tonight. La Noche de Reyes or La Vispera de Reyes. The night before the Epiphany, the night before "Kings' Day". The night before January 6th. 

Tonight (Jan 5) and tomorrow (Jan 6) marks the end of the Christmas holidays. Tonight man families are having another Christmas dinner and exchanging gifts. Either tonight or tomorrow people will be eating a "Roscón de Reyes" (typical sweetbread, click on the name for more info) and whoever finds the bean in their slice will be crowned King or Queen. I can't find a photo of my own of a Roscón, but a quick Google image search turns up many candidates:

Tonight children all over Spain and Latin American will be putting out their shoes and hoping they've been good enough for the Three Kings to leave them a present instead of a lump of coal. This evening the Three Kings (or Three Wise Men, your preference!) have made a grand entry into many Spanish cities, either by boat, helicopter, camel, horse or on a parade float. They've paraded around the cities cheered on by the children watching them and they've handed out sweets and small toys and they've visited local hospitals giving presents to sick children there. I wrote a post two years ago about the Cabalgata de Reyes ("The Kings' Ride") here in Alicante. I didn't have time today to go see the parade, so I'll just have to refer you back to that post.

Even though we're past the age of wondering about the Three Kings, in my family we still keep up one "Kings" tradition that has to do with the Belén... we help them make their way to Bethlehem! Moving them just a little bit closer every day after December 25th:

And now they're there! 

And since we're heading out to spend the day with my Grandmother and Aunts and Cousins in Valencia tomorrow, the Belén gets a reprieve and won't be taken down until Saturday. We got a headstart and took the tree down today though.

So now you know, you'd better watch out twice! 'Cause Santa's not the only one keeping an eye out for boys' and girls' behaviour! ;o)



  1. Well that's really interesting! What is the cake made out of? It almost looks like a round bread texture. Have a fun holiday!

  2. I love how the holidays continue into January; although I'm not sure I could handle so much food for such a long time! LOL!

  3. What does one wish for another on Three Kings Day? Hope you have a great one, whatever is correct! Happy End of Christmas! :-)

  4. Check it out! The Three Kings arrived in Alicante by TRAM last night! Score for public transportation! :o)


  5. Kim: it's pretty much just a sweet bread with sugar and candied fruit on top! I don't know how it's made though, I've never tried...

    Dive Girl: I hear you! Today's the last big meal... and it's going to be turkey again! ARGH!!! My Aunt in Valencia really wanted that so she's asked my dad to make it! So we're off extra early...

    DJan: we just say "Feliz Reyes" so basically "Happy Kings' Day" Thank you!

  6. I read your past posts – I had not seen the salmon crossing the road – something else….
    500 posts! Congratulations! What an achievement – I have written 155 in 2 ½ years so it will take me a while to catch up with you. I did not know that the feast of the kings was also celebrated in Spain. In France we would buy the “galette des rois.” Inside there is a small favor – a tiny china thingy. Whoever gets the piece of galette with it is the “king” or the “queen” depending on their sex and they place the favor in someone’s glass who will be their king/queen. I never knew it had something to do with religion as in Paris people are not very religious (mostly tourists and people from other French provinces go to churches.) The galette was good, very flaky like a croissant with a filling of almond paste. I went to your other blog – I’d love to visit a Christmas Market. Have a great 2012!

  7. I love these traditions! Especially moving the Three Wise Men a little every day until they arrive at the manger.

  8. Vagabonde: here the Roscón can either be plain, or with a cream or chocolate filling. The French are very fond of the marzipan filling, aren't they? Moi ça m'écoeur un peu... Did you guys have the person who was crowned "Roi" or "Reine" throw a crêpe feast for the Chandleur (Feb 2nd) after? My French friends always did!

    Nancy: moving the Three Wise Men used to be a treat as a child, we'd argue over whose turn it was! Now I have to remember to do it whenever I go to my parents' house 'cause they forget to do it! :p


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