Today is the Three Kings day in Catalonia. It is bank holiday in the whole of Spain because according to the tradition, the Three Kings will have brought during the night of 5th January presents to every child around the world. Early in the morning kids will wake up excited to check their balconies, fireplaces or living rooms and discover the presents they got.
Apparently the Three Kings know exactly what children do all the time, so if they were good they will get only presents but if they behaved bad they will also get “coal”, a sweet that looks like black stone! The more coal they find the more they need to improve their behavior for next year if they want to receive more presents from the Three Kings!
How come the Magi know what presents kids want? Well, children have to write a letter to the Three Kings a few days before saying what they wish. Usually children write multiple options to make sure they will get something in their list! Parents will check the letter is nicely written, they will perhaps help them to correct some misspelled words and then they will put it inside an envelope addressed to the Magi.
Every town and city in the evening of January 5th will receive the Three Kings, who always arrive surrounded by a big parade of musicians, dancers and of course their many assistants. Each King has his own “pages” as we call them, they are his assistants, they carry presents, sweets and big sacks to collect all letters. Children choose to which “pages” they will hand their letter to because usually they have a favorite King!
These parades are beautiful because there are thousands of lights along the streets held by children looking at the cheerful arrival of the Magi. Sometimes the Three Kings are on horses, sitting on colorful floats or they come on foot but all around them there is always a big company. Some that play the drums, those that sing the traditional welcoming song, some others that dance and carry presents or sweets… Three hours of itinerary through different streets in every city just to make sure they get to know the wishes of every child!
The parade finishes at the City Hall or some other big square. The Three Kings take a sit and greet everybody. In their speech they will remind children to be good and that they should go to sleep early that evening to let the magic happen.
At home before going to bed, children will leave some fruit and biscuits to the Three Wise Men, as well as some water for their camels. Their journey around the world is long and probably tiring.
On January 6th there will be the last family Christmas lunch. At the end of the meal the dessert will be the tortell de reis -the Three Kings cake- which is round and comes with a golden crown. Once the cake is cut in portions and distributed among the guests, someone will find inside the cake a figurine of a king! This person will become the King or the Queen of the day and will have to wear the crown for a while. Some other, though, will find a bean which means that he or she will have to pay the whole cake!
With this last celebration, Christmas period and school holidays are over.