“ City: Seville / Country: Spain / Region: Asia / Spanish Christmas festival celebrated in January. „
FIESTA DE LOS REYES.
A SURPRISE AWAITS US:
We recently spent a week in Andalucía and this coincided with the Spanish celebration of The Three Kings on January 6th. Up till now I had only thought of January 6th as 12th night and the day that you should have all your decorations nicely put away for Christmas the next year. Once we arrived in Fuengirola we discovered that the 6th was a public holiday and made enquires as to what they were celebrating.
THE TRADITION OF THE FIESTA DE LOS REYES.
This is a celebration of the day the three Kings arrived in Bethlehem and presented the Christ child with their gifts. Traditionally January 6th was the day Spanish children received their gifts and they came from The Three Kings and not Santa.
On the night of January 5th children are supposed to leave their best shoes out by the door to receive the gifts. They also leave water and grass for the camels and something nice to eat and drink for Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthazar. If children have been good then they will find presents in and around their shoes, if not then a lump of coal is left (I can't see this happening too often). The drinks and food are of course gone, eaten by camels or kings.
Nowadays many Spanish families are using the Christmas tree as the place to pile presents as the demands of modern children means that shoes can no longer contain the volume of the delivery.
Some families set up their nativity scene and move the wise men closer and closer to Bethlehem over the Christmas season. The idea being is to have the Three Kings arrive at the stable right on the 6th January.
THE PARADE NIGHT BEFORE:
The night before Three King's Day there is usually a big parade passing through each town. The parade starts at twilight and goes into the early evening when it is dark. The parade starts with people dressed as the kings with some of them blacked up (not sure whether this would be PC in England but seemed to be accepted in Spain). Then a number of decorated floats with children and some adults dressed up to suit the float so we saw polar bears, some pirates and other Christmas type themes on the floats of which there were about thirty in total in various shapes and sizes in the parade we watched in Fuengirola.
As the parade progresses with drums and music, the floats moved slowly down the main street which is lined with people either side. Those on the floats throw sweets out towards the people on either side. Some of the children on the floats were rather over enthusiastic with their throwing and sweets were hurled out at a great pace. Those who had come prepared carried cardboard boxes and umbrellas to catch the loot; others just scrabbled about of the ground and collected the sweets in carrier bags. I am not really that keen on boiled sweets but still managed to amass quite a big haul of those that landed in my trouser cuffs or at my feet. It was quite a sight to see adults scuttling around grabbing sweets off the floor totally without shame or embarrassment.
This parade is covered on television and shown on the news later that night and the next day. We even saw the parade we had watched in Fuengirola on the TV and it is not a very big town really.
LA ROSCA DE REYES
On the 6th January,Los Reyes Day, a special cake is made and sold all over Spain. It is a ring-shaped bun or sweet bread which is similar to hot-cross-bun but it is glazed and decorated with fruit flavoured jellies and fruit. The bun is sliced in half and filled with a white sort of mock cream mixture. We bought ours in Seville as we were there on the 5th and thought we should do what the locals do.
The cake or large bun is eaten at breakfast on the 6th. Hidden in the cream you will find one small model king if you are lucky enough to find one of the hidden figurine then you will be blessed with good luck for the New Year and should wear the golden paper crown that comes with the cake - unfortunately ours was covered in cream so my husband refused to put it on! Some bakers also hide a bean in the cake and if you get this then you are expected to buy the cake the following year, ours didn't have a bean in it but it is unlikely that we will be in Spain at the same time next year so I was not too worried.
We paid 12.50 Euros for this cake which was really only a bun mixture and fairly ordinary really. It was a bit like a Panettone from Italy in a different shape but no dried fruit in the mixture. I am pleased we were able to join in the celebration and buy a Rosca de Reyes from the bakery on Jan 5th but I can't say it was that exciting. I prefer our fruit cake and mince pie and to eat the bun for breakfast takes a stronger stomach than I have with all that mock cream. We ate ours with a cup of tea in the afternoon (how very English of us!)
RECIPE FOR ROSCA DE REYES:
* 400g flour
* 3 eggs
* 100g butter
* 100g sugar
* 1 tsp baking powder
* 1/4 litre milk
* zest of 1 lemon
* dried mixed peel for decorating
1. Mix the baking powder 4 tbsp of the milk add this to 100g of the flour.Mix together until it forms a dough type mixture - cover with a clean tea towel and set aside until it doubles in size.
2. Place the rest of the flour (300g) in a bowl and add the eggs, sugar, pinch of salt, the rest of the milk and zest of the lemon .Mix well then add the butter and continue mixing for a further 2 mins then add the dough mixture - once a smooth dough has been achieved cover and set aside for 2 hours.
3. After 2hrs knead the mixture then put it in a ring shape on a greased baking tray. You can hide a toy or model king and a bean in the mixture or you could hide these in the cream after cooking. Brush with milk and bake in an oven at 160 degrees for 15-20 mins.
4. When cool slice the bun in half and fill it with mock or real cream (you can hide the surprises in the cream). Glaze and decorate the bun with jellied sweets or glace fruit.
We felt very privileged to be able to take part in this Spanish celebration. The parade was extremely quirky, I am sure there would be major PC issues if people dressed up with blacked up faces over here but PC and health and safety do not seem to be taken so seriously in other EU countries. The Three Kings cake or bun was interesting but I am not sure I would pay £12 for another. It was a wonderful experience to share and now we have experienced two major Spanish festivals, this and the Easter festivities which are like this only bigger and better! They have to be seen to be believed; maybe one day I'll do a review on the Easter parades.
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