What do you get when you cross Christmas, Halloween, and a Disney World Parade?

La Cabalgata de Los Reyes!

In Spain, the Christmas festivities don’t end on Christmas! January 6th is el Día de los  Reyes Magos, or Three Kings’ Day. On January 5th, to kick off the celebration, many Spanish cities have an elaborate parade – la cabalgata de los reyes. For my second night in Spain, I joined my host family (including three year old Paula who rode atop her father’s shoulders) to see the lights and decorations, giant floats, costumes of traditional biblical characters as well as popular children’s movie characters, dancers, and a shower of candy and toys thrown to the crowds that swelled in the streets. If you didn’t pay attention, you were sure to get hit in the face with candies. The kings, Melchor, Gaspar, and Baltasar, each rode atop their own extravagant float and were greeted by throngs of cheering and waving families.

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After an evening of tapas and drinks with family friends, we went home to prepare for the kings’ visit that night. Paula helped prepare rice, cookies, and hot chocolate for each of the kings, and we put her shoes out to make sure the kings knew to leave her presents!

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El Día de los Reyes dawned to of the excitement of a three year old discovering what the Reyes Magos had left for her. The holiday, also known as the Feast of the Epiphany, marks the 12th day of Christmas and celebrates the biblical wise men bringing gifts to the baby Jesus. We enjoyed traditional Roscón de Reyes, a sweet bread with dried fruit that contains a tiny gift or haba (bean) inside – jokingly, they say that whoever gets the slice with the haba has to pay for the Roscón (I got it). Once Paula was occupied playing with her new toys, her parents enjoyed a calm holiday away from work. I could tell that Carolina, who works in retail, enjoyed the rest between the pre-holiday shopping rush and the beginning of Las Rebajas (similar to Black Friday in the US), or post-Christmas-season sales, which last for at least for weeks!

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Joining a Spanish family for a big holiday was a beautiful start to my time in Alicante!

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