Tonight’s the big night when the 3 Kings deliver presents to homes all over Spain. Children have sent their letters via the Kings’ pages, telling them they’ve been good, listing the presents they hope to receive – and now wait excitedly for the big day. Today, the eve of ‘Reyes Magos’, the 3 Kings arrived in town in a parade called the Cabalgata. Loud bands herald large floats from which people in fancy dress hurl sweets at the crowd.
The boiled sweets are thrown with such force that they are in danger of ‘having someone’s eye out’ as my mother would say… but the crowds love it, screaming for the sweets to be thrown their way and scrabbling for them as though they were made of solid gold. The really keen ones bring carrier bags and even bin bags to collect them in!
The floats vary from the classical (ancient Egypt) to modern children’s classics such as Narnia, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory and Dora the Explorer! It was hilarious hearing adults shouting ‘Dora, Dora’ to encourage children on the float to throw something their way.
It’s a fantastic atmosphere, everyone completely uncynical and enthusiastic about the tradition, and although the route is long and lasts about 4 hours, the crowds are huge everywhere. Having watched the whole thing once from a vantage point in the north of the city centre, I walked back towards my flat via the supermarket to stock up. This delay was a big mistake – I found myself trapped on the wrong side of the parade, which had progressed to my neighbourhood, and I was treated to watching the whole thing again! This time in the dark and the floats looked even prettier with their lights on.
Que buen dia! Great fun had by all. I wonder if the 3 Kings know where I live….