Did Santa disappoint this Christmas? If you didn’t get the presents you were expecting, don’t despair yet! In Valencia, as in the rest of Spain, the true bearers of gifts are the Reyes Magos (the Three Kings or Wise Men), who will deliver their goods to well-behaved children and adults alike on 6th January, the Día de Reyes.
Many children in Valencia will have received some presents from Papá Noel on Christmas Day, but they all know that the biggest occasion is yet to come. That is why they will still be sending their last minute letters to Their Majesties Melchior, Gaspar and Balthazar, or delivering them in person to their Pajes (messengers) at different points throughout the city.
Meanwhile, adults will still be frantically searching for the perfect presents for their loved ones. In fact, the 12 days of Christmas are probably the busiest shopping period of the whole year, not because of the sales (which won’t start until 7th January) but because of present buying. Many shops will be opening late, or you can try the Cabanyal Reyes Market along Avenida del Mediterráneo in the picturesque seafaring district, open from 3rd to 5th January.
At 5pm on 5th January, the Reyes Magos will arrive at the Port of Valencia, and be greeted by thousands of very excited children. They will then embark on a parade through the city centre, the popular Cabalgata de Reyes, from 6pm, showering children with gifts and sweets as they go along. The Puerta del Mar, Plaza de la Reina and Plaza del Ayuntamiento are good places to watch the parade.
Before going to bed, there is one more tradition to follow: children should leave their shoes out and prepare a bit of food and drink for the Reyes and their camels – delivering gifts is hard work and they will need the extra energy! In return, the following morning they may wake up to find piles of presents… or they may get carbón (charcoal) instead – albeit, a sweet version - if they haven’t been so well behaved.
As Día de Reyes falls on Saturday this time, children will have plenty of time to enjoy their presents over the weekend, before everybody goes back to school (or work) on Monday. Families usually get together for lunch on this day, and share a Roscón de Reyes, the traditional cake for this day. Shaped like a ring (representing the crown of the Reyes), this giant doughnut is usually filled with cream… and a couple of surprises hidden in it. Whoever finds the hidden gift will have good luck in the new year, but if you get the hidden bean, you will need to pay for the Roscón!
With all these traditions still to come, make sure keep all your dreams alive…
Feliz Día de Reyes!