Whilst most of the world is already finishing the Christmas Holidays, taking down lights, removing decorations, dismantling Christmas trees; in Spain, we keep on celebrating with the most important day of the festive season: el Día de los Reyes Magos.
In Spain, our Christmas holidays last slightly longer than most of the world. We begin with Christmas Eve (Nochebuena) on the 24th December when we reunite with the entire family for a lovely dinner (although harder than usual this year, given the circumstances). Typically we eat a variety of appetisers; cold cuts, king prawns, cheeses cannot be missing from the Spanish dinner table. Afterwhich, it is time for soup and the main dish, such as fish, lamb, turkey, or other meats. For dessert, if you still have some space, there is a wide selection of turrones, bombones and polvorones. All of which is accompanied by Christmas carols (villancicos), lots of laughs and lively conversation.
These traditional meals accompany us for every family gathering and festivity that we celebrate during Christmas.
The next day we gather again at lunch time to celebrate Christmas day.
Then there is the 28th of December, the Day of the Holy Innocents. You already know everything about this day from our previous post. This is the day when we try to trick a friend or family member with a practical joke.
The 31st December, New Year’s Eve, we gather for a lavish dinner with family and friends to say goodbye to the year. At quarter to twelve we start to prepare for the stroke of midnight. We always celebrate it with the television turned on and with a small quarrel beforehand as to which channel we should watch the end of the year program.
And the celebrations do not end there. I am sure that you are asking yourselves, what about the gifts? When do we give the gifts? Well, I believe this is the beauty of the Spanish Christmas Holidays.
First, we celebrate with friends and family then on the 5th and 6th of January, the culmination of the festivities: el día de los Reyes Magos, the most magical moment, especially for the little ones. On the 5th (with no pandemic in the middle) there are various parades where his majesties Melchior, Gaspar and Balthazar travel the cities and villages greeting people. Later, the children wait in long queues to talk to the three wise men whilst the parents wait in long queues to have roscón (a typical round cake) and hot chocolate. At the end of the parade we all go home, clean our best shoes and place them right where we would like his majesties to leave our gifts. We leave a bowl of water for the camels, some liqueur and a cookie for the three wise men and we all go to sleep.
The next morning, we find our gifts, open them all and spend the day with our families eating roscón and playing with the games his majesties, los Reyes Magos, brought. This way we have the perfect closure of the festivities where the focus is on spending time with our loved ones, and the odd quarrel as is typical of a good Christmas holiday.
¡Feliz Año Nuevo! y ¡feliz Día de Reyes!