So, the Reyes Magos have finally arrived, bringing the Spanish children their presents. Previously, I always felt a bit sorry for them having to wait so long, but apparently, according to a recent survey, Spanish children think it’s much cooler to have your presents brought by the Three Kings than by Santa Claus – and it does mean that Christmas goes on that bit longer! On the other hand, they don’t get very long to play with their presents before it’s time to go back to school.
But what they do get is to eat lots – and I mean LOTS – of sweets. Yesterday evening I went along to watch the ‘Cabalgata de Reyes’ (or ‘Cavalcada dels Reis’ in Valenciano). I’d been led to expect a bit of a procession, and that the Reyes Magos, or perhaps even their helpers, would be throwing sweets to the children. I’d been told that those children might use upturned umbrellas to catch the sweets in. What I hadn’t expected was quite such a long procession, or that just about every float in it would have half a dozen or so people throwing sweets – and balls, and football flags and goodness knows what else – to the children.
At first, I felt sorry for the little boy behind me, who wasn’t having much luck catching sweets and when I got my hands on one I passed it on to him (fortunately, his mother was quite happy with this!) but by the end of the parade, almost an hour later, there were kids all round me with bags full of sweets that they had caught (or, mostly, picked up off the ground).
After the parade had passed, I followed the masses in to the city centre, where I watched the Kings arrive at the Ayuntamiento (town hall). I’d already seen them pass once, so I knew exactly what to expect this time (the first time round I’d been worried I might miss them, but there was little chance of that – each one being accompanied by flags bearing his initial, acrobats and drummers, and each seated on his throne and waving cheerily to the crowd). What I didn’t expect, however, was that when they made their way up to the balcony to address the crowd, they would do so in a cherry picker.
I stayed to listen to the first address – it was in Valenciano, but I got the gist – then started to wander around and take some pictures of the crowd. I’d forgotten that there were going to be more fireworks, so wasn’t in the best position to see them, but I did manage to capture a few pictures.
And then that was it. Well, I say that was it – apparently there was much activity and dancing into the small hours, but I didn’t stick around to see it. I thought about buying a Roscón de Reyes (the traditional cake to be eaten on Día de Reyes) but at 12,95€ for the cheapest from El Corte Inglés, I decided to live without. Although it would have been a price well worth paying if I’d got one of the few to contain a gold ingot!
I’ve had a lazy day today – other than riding a Valenbisi to the beach for another (cold) paddle – but this evening I decided to treat myself to a pizza, which came with a little note saying ‘Feliz Día de Reyes’ and a hand-drawn picture of a crown. Aah.