El Día De Los Reyes
In the UK Christmas will be all done and dusted by now. We took down our decorations on New Years Day, job done.
Here in Spain they do things differently.
Today is El Día De Los Reyes (Three Kings Day), or “Feast of the Epiphany,” It marks the day on the Christian calendar when the magi brought gifts to the baby Jesus.
Celebrations kicked off yesterday with the arrival of the Kings and associated entourages.
You’d expect the three wise men to arrive more traditionally but I guess camels can’t swim. Why would they? So in Cartagena they arrived by tourist boat.
As you can see there was quite a crowd waiting for them.
Thanks to Howard, Caroline and the girls for inviting us aboard ‘Arctic Fern’ to watch the event. They’d moored in a prime spot at the RCRC marina which gave us a great view.
It did mean we only saw the back of the Kings as they stepped ashore though.
Melchor, Gaspar, and Baltasar had their work cut out from then on.
All the kids write them letters telling them how good they’ve been during the year and what presents they’d like to receive on the 6th December. Yesterday the kings spent many hours dealing with the lines of kids waiting to personally deliver their messages.
The culmination of celebrations is a grand parade through the town. El Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos (The Three Kings’ Parade).
That evening we walked into town to find a spot to watch.
There were tens of thousands lining the route. We thought the Romans and Carthaginians parade back in September had been busy. This eclipsed it.
We were expecting something religious but no, this was all about the kids. The parade was mostly Disney themed with assorted cartoon characters thrown in for good measure.
In the UK the crowd would have all been behind substantial barriers. Not here.
If one of the ‘cartoon’ characters stopped they were mobbed by crowds of children. All credit to the guys and gals in the costumes. They’d give high fives, hugs, pose for photos. Fantastic.
UK Health and Safety would have had a dickey fit at another aspect of the parade.
As every float passed by the passengers would hurl handfuls of sweets out into the crowd.
According to the Cartagena Town Council website 7 tons of sweets and 60,000 packets of jelly beans had been provided. UK HSE would have insisted all spectators wore hard hats and googles.
Oh and sweets weren’t the only thing being thrown.
The three Kings had 18,000 stuffed animals to chuck as well.
Here are a few photos to give you a flavour.
Once they got home they would have put their shoes by the door so that the Kings knew how many children lived there. They’d also have put out water and grass for the camels. Despite the excitement I suspect they’d have gone to sleep pretty quickly.
This morning they’d have woken up to more presents and probably a slice of the traditional cake Roscón de Reyes (Direct translation Ring of the Kings)
It’s been a long Christmas here, but fun.
I’ll leave you with one last photo of our first Cartagena Christmas.