Camino Christmas Traditions: the Three Wise Men

The tradition of the Three Wise Men, also called Epiphany, is very important in Spain and in other countries. It is part of the Christmas feasts and it is celebrated after New Years’ Eve, on 6th of January. To know more about the Epiphany, check out our posts on the Epiphany (Befana) tradition in Italy.

Camino Christmas Traditions: the Three Wise Men

The Feast of the Epiphany is very important in Spain, and it is also known as ‘The Three Kings’ Day’ – ‘Fiesta de Los tres Reyes Magos’. During this special day, the Three Wise Men are expected to come from the Middle East riding their camels, to deliver gifts to the kids. In the Christian Tradition, this represents the moment when, after following a new star in the sky, the kings came to Bethlehem, bearing gifts for the newborn Jesus.  To demonstrate their adoration to the baby Jesus, the three Magi, Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar travelled to offer three symbolic gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh.

How to celebrate the Epiphany in Spain

Since the 19th century, in Spain the Epiphany is celebrated with a funny and colorful parade (“Cabalgata de los Reyes”). The streets of Spanish cities are filled with allegorical cars with lights, music and dances. This is a great show for the children! It is a tradition that the Three Kings throw gifts and candies to the children along their route through the city.

Nowadays, children choose the king that they prefer and ask him the presents they would like to receive. We must say that Spanish kids are extremely lucky because they often get gifts on both Christmas Day and The Three King’s Day. Later, on the evening of the 5th January, children have to go to sleep early to be sure to not miss their presents on the following day. However, if the children didn’t behave well, they will only receive sweet “coal”!

The Three Kings’ Day typical food

On the 6th of January, in Spain, they celebrate this day with another great family meal (the third in a row, after Christmas and New Years’ Eve) and it’s served a typical dessert called “Roscón de Reyes“. This is a sweet circular bread, filled with cream or chocolate, with sugar and dried fruits on top. But careful! In this cake it is normally hidden a figure of a king (if you find it you can wear the crown and you will be the King or the Queen of the day) and a dried bean (in this case you must pay for the cake!). Don’t miss our posts, if you want to know more about the Christmas menu along the Camino and Typical Christmas dishes along the Via Francigena.


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    More Camino Christmas Traditions

    According to the tradition, New Year’s Eve is a time full of magic, in which many rituals are practiced to attract good fortune and predict the future. These traditions continue today both in Spain and in many other countries. Let’s take a look at the most typical ones in the Iberian Peninsula.

    Eating 12 grapes

    If you are spending your holiday in Spain during Christmas time and New Years Eve, you might find some other interesting and funny rituals as part of the tradition. For example, to welcome the New Year, in Spain there’s the habit of eating 12 “lucky” grapes, one each second before midnight. This moment is shared with family and friends, and it is meant to bring good luck for the new year. To follow the countdown, families watch together one of the many programs on tv that shows live the count of the seconds.

    Party in the squares

    Even if most of the families celebrate New Year at home, or in another warm place, there are also some more adventurous people who party outside, in the cold winter. In fact, thousands of people all over the country, meet each year in the central square or in another iconic place of their city, to party together. The most famous square is the Puerta del Sol in Madrid. Thousands of people gather here every year, even though this year might be a bit different because of the Covid restrictions.

    The party continues after Midnight

    Once the grapes have all been swallowed, it’s time to raise a glass of Spanish Cava and toast in the New Year! To get luck and prosperity, it is common to drop a gold object into the glass, such a wedding ring or a gold coin.

    Hot chocolate with churros

    Normally, celebrations do not end early, especially in a country like Spain, which loves to party and have fun. However, this year there will be a curfew because of the pandemic and people will have to go home early. There, the celebrations will continue until the early hours of the morning, the perfect time for another delicious tradition. To recover, after celebrating all night, on New Year’s morning, what better than a hot chocolate with churros?

    Red underwear

    Another tradition, a bit more extravagant, and typical of New Years’ Eve, wants people to wear red underwear to attract good luck and a new love in their life. This should be a gift and must be given away by the end of the night to make the “ritual ” working properly!

    Eating lentils

    In some parts of Spain, they also eat lentils for lunch on New Years’ Day, since it is said to bring prosperity (lentils represent small coins).

    And you? How do you celebrate these holidays? If you want to tell us what is your favorite Christmas Tradition, do not hesitate in writing a comment below. From Galiwonders, we wish you a great start of the new year!

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