You may be wondering who the three kings are.

In Spain there are Three Kings (apart from King Felipe VI) also known as ‘The Three Wise Men’ or ‘los Reyes Magos de Oriente’.

The Three Kings are Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar (in that order!). According to the bible and tradition they travelled for days following a star that would guide them to newborn Jesus. In Bethlehem they presented him with shiny gold, fragrant frankincense and aromatic myrrh.

Nowadays their journey is depicted with colourful parades in all major Spanish cities and towns on the evening of 5th January, the day before Epiphany. Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar each occupy a carriage with young helpers throwing sweets to the large crowds gathered (with a high chance of hitting you in the head if you are not careful). They are accompanied by music bands and people dancing and parading on foot.

On this day, children also receive presents if they have penned their letters to the Three Kings and have been good (and coal if they haven’t!).

There is a Father Christmas/Santa Claus vs. The Three Kings ‘debate’ every year. While some schoolkids prefer Father Christmas/Santa because presents come earlier, which means that they get to play with them for longer before going back to school, others prefer The Three Kings due to the prospect of receiving three presents instead of one!

On the following day, Epiphany, Spaniards typically eat a ‘rosca’ or ‘roscón’ de Reyes (a big ring with a hole in the middle and a bean or figurine hidden inside the dough). It is believed that finding the bean or figurine in your piece of the cake will bring you good luck – unless you bite into it or swallow it that is!

Whether you celebrate this or other festivities or not, thebigword wishes you a very happy New Year.

Maria Fernandez
In-house translator