Happy Kings' Day

Here in Barcelona I've just finished a long, noisy family lunch which began with children opening presents. Today, the Feast of the Epiphany -- we've lost sight of it in the US and the UK, since it was merged with last Sunday -- is the day when, in Spain, gifts are given, commemorating those presented by the magi to the Holy Family.

It's a beautiful tradition, which theologically makes much sense: Christmas Day is a feast day, when families come together as they do in the rest of the Christian world; but today, the "Day of the Magi", families gather again to exchange presents. Young children learn that the Kings came during the night on their dromedaries bringing them gifts (in Mexico, apparently, children leave their shoes filled with hay for the camels to eat). No reindeer or chimneys here, and the three kings are much more universal than our Nordic old man, representing, as they do, Europe, Arabia and Africa. 

Advertisement

Last night we went out on the street to meet the Kings -- each barrio here organises floats with elaborately dressed magi, who toss candy as they go past. The children recognise the Kings with the same ease as children in the UK and US do Father Christmas -- and they shouted their names as they passed: Gaspar! Melchior! Balthazar!

Our Epiphany lunch ended with a Roscón de Reyes, a cake made with orange blossom water and butter, and decorated with candied fruit. Baked inside was the figure of baby Jesus and a bean: the one who gets the first wins the euros we all contributed; the one who gets the bean pays for the cake.

It's a great reminder that it's still Christmas -- at least until tomorrow.

So whatever you're doing today: Felices Reyes!

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

The latest from america

 10.17.2018 Pope Francis greets Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago before a session of the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment at the Vatican Oct. 16. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)
“We take people where they are, walking with them, moving forward,” Cardinal Blase Cupich said.
Michael J. O’LoughlinOctober 20, 2018
Catherine Pakaluk, who currently teaches at the Catholic University of America and holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University, describes her tweet to Mr. Macron as “spirited” and “playful.”
Emma Winters October 19, 2018
A new proposal from the Department of Homeland Security could make it much more difficult for legal immigrants to get green cards in the United States. But even before its implementation, the proposal has led immigrants to avoid receiving public benefits.
J.D. Long-GarcíaOctober 19, 2018
 Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, then nuncio to the United States, and then-Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington, are seen in a combination photo during the beatification Mass of Blessed Miriam Teresa Demjanovich at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, N.J., Oct. 4, 2014. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)
In this third letter Archbishop Viganò no longer insists, as he did so forcefully in his first letter, that the restrictions that he claimed Benedict XVI had imposed on Archbishop McCarrick—one he alleges that Pope Francis later lifted—can be understood as “sanctions.”
Gerard O’ConnellOctober 19, 2018