Most Magical Musical March

February 08, 2007


Wow! We loooved it and have never experienced anything like this before! Spain’s celebrations continues while most of the world packs away the xmas stuff. January 5th each year sees the celebration of Los Reyes Magos or the Three Kings which is the traditional gift giving Christmas night in Spain and a major event for every Spanish child. Instead of Santa Claus being the present provider, it is the three kings, Melchor, Gasper and Balthazar who give the gifts. It is estimated that 7000 kilos of sweets are given out in the Madrid Procession alone. During the 6th of January, the three Kings are seen continuing their good works as they distribute gifts to children in hospitals all over Spain and it is a holiday for all. We were thrilled and honored to be part of this ritual in our little village.

I will never be able to do justice in describing this enigmatic and wondrous experience, nor will my photos or even video come near to capturing the incredibly enchanting time we had, but hopefully you can catch a glimpse. I will say, it was the most extraordinary and captivating event of our trip so far and we have been blessed with many fantastic experiences.

We made sure Mozart took a nap (since she did not get a full nights sleep because of the sleep over) because we did not want her to miss this, so when the excited kids and adults and band members and such started going past our door towards the main square around five o’clock, we were ready to join in. There could not have been a more beautiful day and the joy in the air was palpable. This was the first time we had seen the towns marching band all dressed up in their uniforms with a banner showing the towns name, so knew we were in for a treat.

The fireworks were going off and I was a little more accustomed to them this time, but being the consummate worrywart that I am, I could also not help but have some visions of disasters dancing in my head. I am an interesting combination of adventurer and scaredy-cat and Spain seems to give me many opportunities to explore both sides. There is NO way, that fireworks would be allowed right in the midst
of a crowd (of MANY children) in the USA, yet no one seems to think twice about it here. My mind conjured up foggy old things half read long ago about accidents with fireworks in foreign lands as I watched the one guy at the church setting off the pyrotechnics so close, hoping mightily that he knew what the heck he was doing. Meanwhile they have added animals to the mix and hard candy being thrown about, so kids (including my own) seem to be dashing much too close to excited Mules and horses hooves. Sometimes, you just have to let it all go and trust. After all they have been doing this for centuries and this is part of what we are here to experience.

I was so happy to see the singers again that we had heard on the night of Solstice and now to be able to see them clearly in the bright light. I can show you those streamers I was trying to describe and maybe even put that “a si, a no” addictive Spanish carol tune on the podcast page. Now I know they are dressed in shepherds and shepherdess traditional clothing that is always worn in Andalusia at Christmas and are playing traditional instruments.

When we first arrived Mozart was running around with friends and found her favorite little two year old that she loves to carry and “mother” (or should I say smother). We were also waved over by a man that we have seen around, but have not talked to before, who happens to be an American who has lived here 16 years. Americans are very rare here and he is an interesting fellow so we enjoyed that . His daughter is one of the “big kids” that Mozart loves from her school and was playing with on New Years Eve (Nochevieja) in this square and was the hostess who you see at the beginning of Mozart’s flamenco dance podcast video.

He gave us lots of the scoop about this event as he has participated for many years and in fact his wife was doing a first on this night. She was the first woman ever to be one of the kings (she was playing the black one) and was excited to be participating as the rest were all native Spanish people from the village. We would never have imagined that an American woman was one of the kings! Also one of our close neighbors twins was on a donkey playing Maria (Mary) along side a boy playing  Joseph. One of the nice things about living in a small village is you know all the people participating in the procession which adds to the fun.

Usually they just ride on donkeys thru the town, but this year they hooked them all up to buggies which
had never been done before.The animals got a little nervous when trying to turn around so that was a
little thrilling, but they calmed down soon. The kings came out of the church (which is built right on a former mosque), got into their buggies and started throwing candy by the hand fulls, then the band starts the procession with a Christmas song and the traditional shepherd singers bring up the rear as they wind slowly thru the narrow streets with people on balconies cheering them on.

Meanwhile the kids are dashing between each king (and carriage, mules and horses !!) with their bags picking up as much candy as they can. Assertive, bold, game loving Mozart takes off in a flash in hopes of collecting the most candy (which she does not even like) and I send DaVinci after her to try and keep her safe in the chaos as there is no way I can keep up. It happened so quickly we did not have much time to think or plan. He said it felt just like he was in the middle of the “running of the bulls” and the chaotic crowd and movement in the beginning, with big animals in close quarters, had a life of its own. Interestingly, we found out later that this spot is exactly where they run them during the fiera in the summer. Next winter we will watch the three Kings from our balcony probably and catch the procession once it gets more orderly and spread out, but it certainly added to the thrill of our first Los Reyes Magos.

I enjoyed my vantage point in the rear with the singers, drums and tambourines that I just love and even
got to know a little bit of some of the songs as they are sung over and over with such joy as it moves along. People joined in the fun from their balconies or lining the road, greeting friends with hugs and smiles as they passed. The fireworks  kept exploding above and it was a gorgeous light as the sun set and turned the sky pink and crimson added to the azure blue as we wound around the town. I was awestruck at moments with the beauty as we turned various corners, but of course my little camera can not capture what I saw as we were swept away with the music and crowd.

Eventually we caught up with DaVinci and Mozart, or they lagged due to  her chasing the candy down which takes up more time than walking. I even got a few handfuls of candy thrown on my head as I took video and pictures. DaVinci happened to mention the procession to our English friends when he dropped off the girls in the afternoon (who were unaware of it altho they knew about the three kings but thought it was celebrated on the 6th), so they joined us too. Well, the Mum and eldest girl, as our little sleep over guest did not get a nap and was down for the night.

When we finally got to the other side of the town to the community center (in the same location where
the school concert and Flamenco concert was) the three Kings called each child’s name and gave them a wrapped present starting with the youngest child. Luckily we found out that this is all arranged before
hand with a certain shop keeper in secret. Mozart was wondering how the three Kings knew her name.

Thus we got some exercise walking all over town, Mozart had a very full bag of candy plus a toy and we all had a priceless cultural experience of village life in Spain. Now that full night had set in we walked back to our old part of the village for dinner at one of our favorite places. The tradition is to have a special round cake with “jewels”on it and a surprise inside, but we had something else on our minds. We were in a well satisfied glow as we savored our salmon, pasta and pizza. They have one of our favorite desserts EVER there called “sticky toffee pudding” (which is not a pudding at all, but a melt in your mouth soft cake, vanilla ice cream and luscious carmel sauce combo) so we had one more indulgence before this long holiday season comes to a close. Now I can’t wait to see the celebrations of Lent and Easter in Spain!















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Lovely memories.

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