It’s January 6, and in Barcelona it’s Christmas. Today is the Feast of the Epiphany, when the Three Kings arrived in Bethlehem…and it’s the most important day of the year for the children of Spain. They wake up to find a table heaped with gifts left by the kings. The excitement began last night, with the Calvacade of Los Reyes Magos, the joyous parade welcoming the kings, Melchor, Gaspar, and Baltasar, to the city.
The kings arrive by boat at the waterfront of Barcelona, to be greeted by Jordi Hereu, the mayor of the city. He gives them the keys to all the homes so they can go in to leave gifts for the children. They travel through the city in a thrilling procession that stirs up a frenzy of anticipation and delight for the kids and adults.
There’s elaborate floats on which singing performers act out fantastical versions of “behind the scenes” gift orchestration…bicyclists pulling mailboxes to collect letters and lists from the children, colorfully costumed phone operators taking orders, an assembly line of workers sending off the gifts.
Singing entertainers in showy costumes arrive on stilts and in contraptions that hold them high in the air, tossing handfuls of candy to the kids. Even the policemen alongside the parade got into the spirit of the occasion, picking up out-of-reach candy to pass back to the crowds. I saw a grandmother reach out to catch a piece of candy and, when she missed it, her grandson looked up with a grin and handed her one of his.
The boy in the green jacket is Miquel, who I let climb through ahead of me…his mom and dad were keeping a close eye on him from behind and he kept looking back to them every time he caught a piece of candy or got a great picture with his dad’s camera. (I was keeping an eye on him, too.)
In a flurry of fanfare, the kings arrive, followed by the coal truck, a warning for kids to behave.
Families make their way home to get children into bed so the Kings can drop off their presents. Snacks are left on the table for the Kings and their camels…bread and cheese, olives, sweets, and wine.
The streets empty, but still sparkle with lights and a feeling of joyousness. It’s Christmas in Barcelona.