Cultural roots of the 6th January celebration in Spain

In case you haven’t heard of “Three Kings Day”, it is the predominant translation of the Spanish “Día de los Reyes Magos”, which is a festival and Spanish national holiday celebrated on 6th January each year, and the Three Kings Parade in Málaga is one of the most important processions in the country to honour the festival.

Traditionally and religiously-speaking, Three Kings Day is much more important than Christmas Eve or even Christmas Day in Spanish culture and is typified by certain customs; some – or all – of which you may be aware of if you already live in Spain.

As mentioned in a recent post, presents are exchanged on this day and the sweet treat roscón is eaten for dessert after a hearty family lunch. But perhaps the most iconic rite of passage – actually celebrated the day before on 5th January – is lining the streets to watch the “Cabalgata de Reyes”, or Three Kings Parade.

The procession represents the arrival of the Three Kings – or Three Wise Men – in Bethlehem to see the baby Jesus, as per the biblical story, and the present-day elements of elaborately-decorated floats, music, dancing, artistic performances and distribution of candies to children all give a carnival atmosphere, conveying the elation of the arrival of the Magi.

Three Kings Parade in Málaga

While there are also processions in Marbella, Torremolinos and Mijas, to name but a few, Málaga’s offering surpasses those of other towns within the province.

This year’s colourful and much-anticipated event sees 13 brand new floats take to the streets as well as 2,000 processioners, who will throw out an estimated five million candies (roughly 15 tonnes of sweets!) to excited children in the crowd.

If you haven’t been to this procession before and you are lucky enough to live on the glorious Costa del Sol with your family, you should try to get down to the city centre for 6pm this Saturday to witness the Three Kings Parade in Málaga: one of the province’s most spectacular winter events and a brilliant Christmas photo opportunity. For more information and to see the full route, click here.

Three mistakes you should avoid making

1. Getting there late

Trust me, this is not just an obsession or paranoia based solely on British punctuality. Over the years, I have seen first-hand the vast swathes of people who want to get their families right to the front of the crowd in order to obtain the best views.

It is not uncommon to see late-comers (those not arriving up to an hour before the start of the parade) bringing ladders with them to see above the masses, so be warned that getting a good spot on the day is pretty key!

2. Feeding the kids before you leave

OK, so this is a bit of an exaggeration… but, given the vast quantity of – gluten free – candies thrown into the crowd, they will more than likely be gorging on the sweet treats long into the evening.

Trick of the trade: come armed with an umbrella turned inside-out so you can maximise the number of candies you catch as they come raining down around you. Clearly, for many people this is a tad competitive and is probably not advisable as, in any case, you’ll be very unlucky to miss out when 15 tonnes of the stuff being is distributed!

3. Not wrapping up sufficiently

Although it’s not rare to be walking around in shorts and sandals on the Costa del Sol – even in winter – be aware that it is a fair bit colder in the evenings now, especially if you’re standing around for a while (as is the nature of this type of parade).

Also, bringing supplies of food and warm drink wouldn’t go amiss either!

The Three Kings Parade in Málaga is just one of the many dazzling cultural events that make life in southern Spain so great for families as well as other expats.

Are you going to the parade on Saturday? Or have you ever been before? If so, let us know how it went or what your experience was like by leaving us a comment below!