Celebrating Los Reyes Magos: A Spanish Tradition

As Americans start to pack up their Christmas decorations, Spaniards continue to celebrate the holiday season beyond Christmas and the New Year. Since moving overseas to Madrid, we have found that the festivities begin on December 24 and end on January 6 with Los Reyes Magos, the Three Wise Kings.

Los Reyes is similar to what others refer to as the Feast of the Epiphany or Theophanyis, and is one of the biggest celebrations in Spain next to Semana Santa.

The holiday is celebrated throughout Spain and is carried over in many Christian households in the United States. The day embraces the story of the three Wise Men (Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar) who brought the gifts of frankincense, gold, and myrrh to baby Jesus.

Although Santa is celebrated in some homes in Spain, it is los Reyes Magos who are the true bringers of gifts to children. For this reason, boys and girls will leave their shoes out for the Magi to leave presents and sweets to enjoy when they wake up on the 6th.

The Magi has come! Gifts left in my daughters’ shoes for Los Reyes.

Celebrations begin on January 5, when will see parades take to the streets across the country. The parades are similar to the Macy’s Day parade with music, dancers, floats, and acrobats. In addition to common parade themes, Spain goes the extra mile by even including camels and other barnyard animals to reenact when the men traveled from the east to reach Bethlehem to see the infant Jesus. 

Watch a past parade in Barcelona.

In addition to the parade and other festivities, you must celebrate with the traditional dessert Roscón, aka Three Kings Day cake.

This cake is pure heaven and although most eat it for breakfast on January 6, it can also be enjoyed throughout the Christmas/Epiphany season. This cake is baked in the shape of a crown, decorated with dried fruit, and filled entirely with fresh nata (whipped cream) or chocolate truffle cream. 

Per tradition, a tiny plastic-wrapped king figurine (or fava bean) is baked inside each roscón. Whoever gets the piece of roscón with the king wins and will have good luck for the rest of the year.

Unfortunately, there won’t be any festivities or parades this year due to COVID-19, but we will still have our delicious Roscón to celebrate with and memories from past years.

Feliz Navidad y Día de los Reyes Magos!


 

Mary
Mary, a native of Rockford, Illinois, attended DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois where she received her BA in Secondary Art Education. In 2007, she moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa after accepting a position as a high school visual arts teacher with the Cedar Rapids Community School District. She and her husband, Collin, who is a teacher in the Iowa City Community School District, reside in Cedar Rapids with their daughters, Zoey and Munroe. Zoey is five and Munroe will be turning one in October 2016. In addition to being a full time mommy, full time teacher, and writer for the mom’s blog, she is also a professional artist who has shown and published works both nationally and internationally. Mary enjoys traveling, painting, and most of all, spending time with her family.

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