Spain is the country that maintains a greater tradition around the celebration of the day of the three wise men. But what does this celebration consist of? Well, during the night of January 5, the children receive in their house the visit of three wise men who come from the East to leave gifts for having behaved well during the previous year. A job very similar to Santa Claus. But not only that, during the afternoon, a multitude of float parades adorned with lights, sounds and colors run through the streets of all the towns and cities, and on top of these floats the wise men and their helpers, called pages, throwing candies and gifts to all attendees.
What is the origin of this peculiar celebration?
The story told in the Bible tells us that after the birth of Jesus Christ, priests from the East do not need an exact place, they went to pay homage and give him gifts of great wealth from that time, specifically gold, frankincense and myrrh. Although the Bible really does not say that they were kings, nor that they were only three.
This act is known as Epiphany. In Spain, from the nineteenth century, the tradition of turning the night before the Epiphany into a children’s party begins. The first cavalcade of the three wise men dates from 1866 in the town of Alcoy (Alicante). From this moment, the tradition extends to the rest of cities in Spain and other countries, especially Spanish-speaking.
The typical sweet that is tasted in Spain at this party is the “roscón de reyes”. It is a sweet bread in the shape of a circle, half a meter in diameter, filled with custard, cream or chocolate. Garnished with candied fruit and icing sugar. Inside it hides a bean and tradition says that the person who eats it and finds the bean, has to pay the roscón de reyes.
So you know, this next January 5 you have to go to bed early to visit the wise men to leave us the gifts, which we have previously requested by letter. And if the next day you eat a piece of roscón de reyes, be careful not to find the bean!