Celebrating Three Kings Day in Granada

Posted on January 14, 2010 by

Bright lights, extravagant parades and streets decked out in a festive mood – we celebrated the Día de Los Reyes Magos in Granada, our new home. The Three Kings Day, taking place on the 6th January each year, marks the peak as well as the end of Christmas. While the rest of the world has already packed up their festive mood, the Spanish continue their annual celebrations and turn it up a notch. Besides being a day of fiesta, it holds significant religious importance and age-old traditions.

Cabalgata de Los Reyes

The extravagant Cabalgata de los Reyes takes place on the evening of 5th January, kicking off the joyful celebrations. Each year, substantial amount of money and effort are spent on preparing the massive parade, with over hundreds of artists, technicians and students involved. Besides large-scale marching bands, live animals and glitzy floats, the parade’s leading icons are the three Kings of the East.

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In most Andalusian cities, the parade is held along the main street, where locals gather to rejoice in the occasion. Riding through the city in their camels or elaborate caravan, the Kings adorn dazzling costumes, shimmering crowns and huge smiles.

Armed with bags of candies, the Kings throw the brightly coloured sweets to children lining the streets. Not only do the young ones enjoy the revelry, people of all ages take to the streets to join in the fun. It always ends up quite a hectic rush as both adults and children fill up their sacks with sky-falling candies.

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That evening, as children return home for an early night, they leave out their shoes (not stocking!) in the most conspicuous spot where the Kings can secretly fill up with gifts. To lure in the gift-toting royal monarchs, children set out goodies and a bottle of cava as well as hay and fruit peelings to feed their camels.

Roscón de los Reyes

Come morning, the children wake up to discover that the goodies have been nibbled upon, hay eaten by the camels, and their shoes filled with wrapped presents. It’s this moment of the Christmas season that they have been waiting for – brand new belongings for the start of a brand new year. The spirit of giving continues to live on as the Spanish continue to worship the three Kings.

After tearing open the presents, it’s time for the family to gather around in their pyjamas, tucking into the typical breakfast of Roscón de los Reyes. While sipping tea, they share the excitement of the surprise ahead. A thick festive mood fills the air and there’s no hiding the alegria.

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A ring-shaped egg and flour cake filled with candied fruits and mini trinkets, the roscón has a surprise in stall for everyone. The diced fruits are symbolic of the precious gems that adorn the robes of the three Kings, while the trinkets are figurines of kings and queens. The ‘king’ trinket represents good fortune, blessing whoever who picks it, while the figurine ‘haba’ (or bean) determines who will be buying the roscón next year.

Get yourself roscón next year, or better still, join in the celebrations with a Spanish family, and you’ll find yourself indulging in this unique cultural experience. There’s no better way to feel the Spanish intimate and traditional spirit than to be part of them.

As el Día de los Reyes draws to an end, so do the Spanish Christmas celebrations. After 12 full days of hearty feasting, pumping celebrations and blissful reminiscence, it’s time to pack up the Christmas tree and ornaments, and bring out a fresh attitude and motivation for the brand new year. Who’s counting the days to the next Reyes? I know I am.

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About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is a professional travel writer and blogger with a special interest in off-grid destinations and adventure travel. Her mission is to visit every country in the world. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Iceland, swam with sealions in the Galapagos, built a school in Tanzania, waddled with penguins in Antarctica, crossed into North Korea and drank beer in Palestine.

9 Responses to “Celebrating Three Kings Day in Granada”

  1. Travel Blogs January 14, 2010 11:18 am #

    Awesome pictures!!

  2. Janelle January 14, 2010 4:19 pm #

    Hola! I work near the Castellana in Madrid so on Jan 5 after work I happened to arrive just before the "3 Kings" passed by on their floats. I loved the moment when the kids around me noticed the first king arriving and excitedly yelled out his name, "Melchor!!!" Then it was Gaspar!! and Baltazar!! They could hardly believe it was REALLY the Reyes in front of them. I'm sure they didn't sleep a wink that night waiting to see the gifts they would find in the morning!

    • Nellie January 17, 2010 7:20 pm #

      hey Janelle, thanks for stopping by! Yes, los Reyes are a hit with the kids, arent they? Even I was left starry-eyed when they came on their thrones – everyone was busy bending down to catch candies, but I was just staring in awe.

  3. Travel Blogs January 17, 2010 11:44 am #

    Amazing pictures, your blogs is one of the best , keep up the blogging:)

  4. Travel Blog May 4, 2010 1:31 pm #

    Beautiful photography! Granada is a place I definitely need to visit at some point this summer. Is it difficult to communicate there for people that don't speak Spanish?
    Thanks

    • admin May 7, 2010 10:53 pm #

      It might be initially, but people who work in the tourism office or in hotels and restaurants usually speak English. Pick up some simple phrases and you’ll definitely get a warmer smile from them. ;)

  5. Mathieu April 7, 2011 3:55 pm #

    It’s so easy to fall into the festive moods when the entire nation celebrates the joyous occasion with you. Such an eye-opener!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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