In today’s article, we will talk about a beautiful tradition: Epiphany in Spain.
On 6 January in Spain, children await the arrival of the Spanish Three Kings: Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar.
Among the Spanish Christmas festivities and traditions, this is probably the most eagerly awaited, perhaps even more than Christmas itself.
It is the three Magi who deliver the gifts that the little ones have asked for in a letter. The children write to their favourite Magi, just like Santa Claus, telling him that they have been good and asking for the presents they would like to receive.
Then, when it is time to go to sleep, they leave sweets for the Three Wise Men on the table, a bowl of water for the camels, and a sock under the Christmas tree in which they will find their present the next morning.
It is almost the same as Santa Claus, except that milk and biscuits are left for him and carrots for the reindeer.
SPANISH TRADITIONS: THREE KINGS PARADE
Among all Spanish traditions, one of the most best moments not only of the Christmas season but of the whole year is the Three Kings parade – la cabalgata de los Reyes Magos.
Parades with floats, music, and lights are organised in all Spanish cities. The Three Wise Men parade on horseback and then gather in a central square where they will give a speech to wish everyone a happy Christmas and the whole thing ends with fireworks.
During the procession and aided by pajes (helpers), the Magi throw sweets to the children who have come to watch the parade.
It is certainly a unique spectacle to witness, a real way of immersing oneself in the life and traditions of wonderful Spain.
But let’s discover more about Epiphany in Spain and how it is celebrated in its most important cities.
EPIPHANY IN MADRID
In the capital there is, of course, the most important and popular parade, which is broadcast on the national channel of Spanish TV.
The celebration is so heartfelt that there are parades – cabalgadas – in almost every district of the city.
The biggest parade starts at Plaza de San Juan de la Cruz at 6.30 pm and stops at Plaza de Cibeles at 8.45 pm.
There, there will be the famous speech of the Three Magi and the fireworks display.
This is the parade that also hosts the largest number of foreign spectators!
THE SEVILLE PARADE
The Seville parade is famous for being probably one of the longest of all Spanish cities. It lasts at least 4 hours and in addition to music and dancing, more than 30 floats accompany this cabalgata.
THE SKI DESCENT
One of the funniest and most scenic parades to watch is the one in the Aragonese Pyrenees where the Magi descend, unbelievable but true, on skis!
To get the best view of this spectacular parade, there are stations in the mountains where visibility is perfect and they are Formigal, Panticosa, and Cerler.
ROSCON DE REYES CAKE
When talking about Epiphany in Spain, we can’t forget the famous Three Kings cake – el roscón de Reyes-, a doughnut decorated with lots of colourful candied fruit and filled with cream or chocolate.
Discover the recipe for Roscón de Reyes here and surprise your friends and family with a Spanish cake this year!
This cake is thought to have very ancient roots, even related to the festival dedicated to the god Saturn in the Roman period.
During the same period, very similar cakes were made and given to slaves. A dry bean was placed inside the dough and whoever found it was elected ‘king of kings’ for a few days.
In modern festivities, the fava bean (haba) is always placed inside the cake, but whoever finds it, instead of being made king, has to pay for the cake.
Often, instead of the fava bean, a small statue of one of the Magi, called a figurita, is inserted, which a lucky (or unlucky at this point) diner can find in his slice.
The now very famous cake has also spread widely in other countries where the main language is Spanish.
Now that you have discovered more about Epiphany in Spain, learn how to wish you Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in Spanish!