The Three kings have just arrived to Spain!. The 6th of January is a magic day here. Known as 'El Dia de Reyes' (Three Kings Day), this holiday represents the height of the Christmas season. The date marks the culmination of the twelve days of Christmas and commemorates the three wise men who traveled from afar, bearing gifts for the infant baby Jesus.
Children in Spain, some other European and most Latin American countries receive their Christmas presents on this day. However, Santa Claus is growing in popularity every year and as a result children in Spain now often receive presents on two days during the christmas holiday. The Star of Bethlehem appeared in the evening sky just prior to the birth of Jesus. Three wise men or Magi as they were known, whose names were Gaspar, Melchor and Balthasar, traveled a large distance to pay homage to the Christ child. They brought with them fine gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. No stockings beside the chimney, instead you must leave a very shinny shoe in the sitting room or the room that each family chooses and at night time (from the 5th of January to the 6th) the three kings will leave you lots of presents (if you've been good !).
The holiday is also known by the name of the Epiphany which dates back to the 4th century. A grand feast would be held on this day to honor the occasion of Jesus' baptism and to pay homage to the three wise men. In addition to the gift-giving aspect of the day there is also a culinary treat that is specific to the holiday. Known as 'Roscón de Reyes' (King's Cake), this holiday dessert offers much in the way of symbolism. Shaped in the round to signify a king's crown, and the glass fruits, represent the emeralds and rubies.
This sweet bread holds a special surprise, baked inside is a small figurine and a bean. Originally it only contained a bean and whoever found it was appointed as the Kings of Kings for a day, but today you must find the figurine to be the "King of Kings" and if you are unlucky enough to find the bean you need to pay for the "Roscón" (cake) !
Happy Three Kings Day from Solamante !