Thursday, January 5, 2012

Three Kings

Santa takes second place, here in Spain, to the Tres Reyes Magos, the 3 Wise Men (Maji becomes magic). During the night of the 5th of January, the 3 Kings bring presents to children throughout the country. The tradition starts with letters addressed to their favourite King, Melchor, Gaspar or Baltasar, where they state what presents they want. The kids know if they have not been good during the year, the Kings will bring them coal instead of gifts. Coal, made from blackened sugar, is available in all the cake shops and supermarkets just in case it's needed. On the evening of the fifth, spectacular parades are held in every Spanish city, celebrating the arrival of the Kings, where they and their Royal Pages throw handfuls of sweets to the people watching. The parades started in the 1850's in Alcoy, also the home of the most famous Moors and Christians Festival held there in April every year. Next children have to shine their shoes and leave Turrón (almond sweets) and Milk for the Kings, as well as water and bread for their camels, overnight. Magically, the Kings will visit overnight and leave gifts or coal (or both) by the shoes.

Not too much sugar
For the adults, as well as the children, there's more to come. Another tradition is the Roscón de Reyes, or the King's Bread. This is a yellowish, doughy, sweet bread made into an oval or circle (smallest I've seen was about 25 centimetres in diameter, the most common being over twice that), covered with confectioner's sugar and candied fruit, and optionally, with a filling of whipped cream. Zero Calories! Many accompany generous helpings of Roscón with hot chocolate, just to ensure their energy levels are maintained. Incidentally, hidden within the dough is a surprise, usually a small figure, and whoever ends up biting down on that, either gets an emergency visit to the dentist, or, as the tradition demands, has to buy another Roscón. What is it about the Spanish and sugar?

When I come down from my sugar high, I'll try to do some more work on the latest novel.

More Roscón anyone?

Happy Reyes to all.

Eric at www.ericjgates.com
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