The Three Wise Men come to Spain
While this Santa thing is getting more and more common in Spain, we’ve always had other people who gave us nice presents around the holiday season: the Three Wise Men, Magi or whatever you want to call them. In case you’re not familiar with them, they were the ones that, according to Christian folklore, came from the East following a star to worship Jesus. Nowadays, the Three Wise Men supposedly bring presents the morning of the 6th of January, although they may bring you coal if you’ve been a bad kid!
However, that’s not the only interaction the little (and not so little!) ones have with their majesties. Every year, the afternoon prior to the presents and the coal, the Three Wise Men take part, along with many other lucky people, in the Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos (Cavalcade of Magi). There’s a Cabalgata in pretty much every Spanish town and also in some towns in Andorra, Czech Republic, Poland and Mexico. Man, these guys are everywhere. I want their superpowers!
I don’t know any details about the non-Spanish cabalgatas, maybe they are very different and maybe not. I’ll just talk about the Spanish ones: This tradition has existed for quite a long time — the first one was held in Alcoy (Eastern Spain) in 1866, although the Cabalgata as we know it nowadays has existed since the first Sevillian Cabalgata in 1917. It basically consists of a series of carriages with people throwing around sweets. The number of carriages mostly depends on how big the town is, and each carriage has a different theme, often related to popular children stories, religious folklore or well-known movies (I’m sure that, as I write these lines, there are many Star Wars carriages in different Spanish towns). You often see an adult and several children in every carriage, and once in a while the adult happens to be… one of the Three Wise Men! As you can imagine, they are the ones who throw the largest quantity of sweets; after all, they’re the big fish there.
This parade goes on for a while. In Sevilla, my hometown, it lasts around three hours, I’d say. Countless children go there to see the Three Wise Men and, let’s face it, to stuff themselves with candy. Yeah, okay, not only children. I admit I’ve been there more than once after entering my twenties. I don’t even like candy but it’s just so fun! People from all ages go and (dirty little trick here) hold their umbrellas upside down to get more candy.
If you ever happen to be in Spain in early January, don’t miss the Cabalgata, you’ll feel like a five year old again and you’ll have tons of fun!