La temporada de fiestas or festival season is finally finished here in Spain. It ended on Saturday, January 6th with the Epifanía or Epiphany. This is the day on which presents are exchanged. Actually it is more complicated than that as some people exchange presents on December 25th, or on both days. In any case, the rebajas (sales) start the day after the Epiphany.
The earliest record of the feast of the Epiphany was celebrated in Egypt and Arabia on winter solstice in 361. Epiphany transformed into a Christian feast intended to celebrate the 'shining forth' or revelation of God to mankind in human form, in the person of Jesus. The observance had its origins in the eastern Christian churches, and included the visit of the Magi, or Wise Men who arrived in Bethlehem. The date of the feast was fixed on January 6.
The early western Church decided to celebrate Christmas on December 25. The East continued to treat January 6 as the day marking Jesus' birth. The west generally acknowledges a twelve-day festival, starting on December 25, and ending on January 5, known as Christmastide or the twelve days of Christmas. That brings to mind a popular song of the season…
So much for East versus West.
This is the African float in the cabalgata.
There were also floats for Europe and Arabia.
In Spain, Epiphany day is called El Día de los Reyes (The Day of the Kings). The day when a group of Kings or Magi of the Bible arrived to worship and bring three gifts to the baby Jesus after following a star in the heavens. This day is sometimes known as the Día de los Tres Reyes Magos (The Day of the Three Magi). On January 6th, three of the Kings: Melchor, Gaspar, and Baltasar, representing Europe, Arabia, and Africa, arrived on horse, camel and elephant, bringing respectively gold, frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus.
Here in El Masnou los Tres Reyes arrived by boat at the yacht harbor the night before, right across from my piso. The alcalde was there to greet them and introduce them to the gathered populace. As usual, tradition comes with politics.
A group dressed as Dalmatian dogs.
Don't ask me why, I just live here.
In Spain, the tradition is that children write a letter to the Reyes and they send them before the day of the Epifanía. I saw many children hand their letters to the Reyes at the port here in Masnou. I forgot to write one.
Eventually the Reyes made their way up to illuminated floats so that they could begin the cabalgata de Reyes Magos. I don’t know if the alcalde was in a float as well or just disappeared. This cavalcade proceeded to wind its way through the streets of El Masnou with the Reyes throwing out candies along the way.
Maybe this is where the alcalde was supposed to ride.
Also, children (and many adults) polish and leave their shoes ready for the Kings' presents before they go to bed on 5 January. Sweet wine, nibbles, fruit and milk is left for the Kings and their camels. This is analogous to children leaving mince pies or cookies and milk out for Father Christmas in Western Europe or Santa Claus in the States. I rejected the idea as I don’t want to attract vermin.
Devils. I didn't see any angels,
nor any nativity scene.
Like other festivos in Spain, there is a special food that is available.
The Roscon de Reyes is shared with family and friends. The Roscon is a type of sweet-bread made with orange blossom, water, and butter; decorated with candied fruit. Between the layers of bread, lies different flavoured whipped cream. Baked inside is a small toy similar to a Kinder Surprise. The person who
eats finds the toy is then responsible for the purchase of the Roscon the following year.
I saw the Roscones at Alcampo, but didn’t know if they were a catalán tradition or from some other part of Spain. So I didn’t buy one. I was castigated by that oversight, and now I know better. It’s so difficult to keep the nacionalistas happy.
This is Barcelona, not Sevilla!