The most cherished tradition for Spanish and Hispanic children at Christmas is the arrival of Los Reyes Magos (The Three Kings). Santa Claus also exists and gives presents, however Los Reyes Magos are the star if the show, arriving on the morning of the 6th of January every year with gifts for the children of every household. When December comes around, children start to write their letters to the three kings asking for presents and informing them of the all the good deeds they have done throughout the year.
It is said that if a child is good, they will receive presents and if they have been naughty, only a lump of coal will await them. Their majesties said to arrive on camels from the east, which is why they take so long to get to Spain after the birth of Jesus.
On the evening of the 5th, there are parades in all the towns with a great variety of colorful floats, costumes, music and dancing. This marks the arrival of Los Reyes Magos, who throw handfuls of sweets to the children watching. On that same night children put their shoes next to the front door so that the three kings will know how many children are in each house.
They also leave a glass of water for the kings after their long journey through the desert and a bowl of grass for the camels. In the morning, the children find their presents in and around their respective shoes and find the water glasses empty and the bowls of grass eaten. The rest of the day is spent with the family. Unlike in the UK, there isn't a traditional meal to be ate on the day however most families get together and go out for lunch.
So, how about adding a little Spanish festive cheer into your household? Even if it's just going to the annual three kings parade and getting your hands on some of the sweets being thrown into the crowds, Los Reyes Magos is a great way of feeling a little more in touch with the local community.