Monday, January 20, 2014

Dia de los Reyes Magos: Three Kings Day in Spain

The Christmas season in Spain is a lot longer than in the US. Dia de los Reyes Magos is the official last day of Christmas. This holiday is celebrated all throughout the Spanish speaking world. It is the 12th day after Christmas and is called Epiphany in the Christian calendar. On this day, the Kings called Melchor, Gaspar and Baltazar arrived to Bethlehem bearing gifts for the baby Jesus.

In Spain, preparations for this holiday start weeks before. Children write letters to the kings telling them what presents they would like. As the day gets closer the bakeries start redecorating their windows with Roscon de Reyes or a Kings Cake. This is a circle shaped sweet bread often filled with a cream. The top of the cake is decorated with candied fruits which are meant to represent the gems on the King’s robes. Inside the cake, there is a a bean and/or a baby figurine. The person who finds the baby is supposed to host the next party, and the person who finds the bean has good luck for the whole year! Like I mentioned in my post American Christmas vs. Spanish Christmas, most Spanish families have a Nativity scene in their house. The night before Three Kings Day, the three kings are placed in the Nativity scene. Children often will leave out some hay for for camels and some candies for the kings.

Just some of the people waiting for the parade to start
Beautiful sunset!
The most exciting part of the whole holiday is the Parade! In all of Spain’s history, this is the longest standing parade. In Valencia it starts at the port where the Kings arrive by boat. A few hours later, the actual parade starts with the kings in the Turia River bed and they go all through the old town and end at the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. It starts around 6pm, but people are in their spots as early as 12pm! It pays to have a spot close to the street during this parade because all the floats have candy and small toys which are thrown out to the crowd. The parade lasts about an hour and a half and includes music, dancing, costumes, animals, elaborate floats and of course the Kings!


Umbrella, AKA candy catcher

This man and his helpers were collecting the rest of the cards for the kings, there were lots to collect!

So, who gets to be the Kings? This is usually decided by who has had something exciting happen during the year. It can be sports stars, politicians, people from the neighborhoods who have done good things for the schools. Really anything that makes the public recognize you as a good person can get you nominated for a spot as one of the Kings. For this reason, something that is incredibly taboo in the US is completely alright here. The last king (and most people’s favorite), Baltazar, is traditionally a Spanish man done up in black face. It was definitely a huge shock the first time I saw some pictures!

Here is a little compilation of all the videos I took during the parade. The last three videos are of the kings!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Spain Buddy Interview

Hello! Here is another interview with an expat site specifically related to Spain! Check it out and let me know what you think. :)

Click here to read the interview

Friday, January 10, 2014

Food Mule

Food Mule [ˈfuːd ˈmjuːl]
Noun [c]
A person who takes food products between countries: Her suitcase is full of food, she must be a food mule.

This is the definition of me whenever I travel. It is pretty common knowledge that when I travel, one of the first things I want to visit is the city’s markets. There I usually window shop and pick up a few things to keep in my bag for snacks for travel. Before I leave whatever country I am in I usually buy a few foodie souvenirs to take back and enjoy at home.

Here are a few of the random things I have picked up over my travels:

Portugal: A bottle of Port and a bottle of cherry liquor
Belgium: Chocolate (of course!)
Poland: A bottle of Bison Grass Vodka and salt
Palestine: Za’atar and Arabic coffee
Italy: (I literally wanted to buy everything I saw, but we flew Ryanair. Sad smile) Orzo, Farro, and Spinach pasta.
Austria: Salt

I try to buy something special from every country I visit. It is always nice to cook with a little reminder of your travels.

My most recent trip was to Colorado (my home state!) Since I went home for Christmas I had to bring back food presents for everyone. Whenever I send a package to my parents I include some Spanish saffron and, if I can find them, pine nuts from Spain. So shopping for their Christmas present was very easy! Rice from Valencia, Saffron from Spain and a real Paella pan! My cousin got some saffron as well.


My all time top food mule experience was leaving the US. I had some friends ask me for candy from the US. I am also addicted to Reese's so I had to load up on those as well. Also included was some instant yeast, cream of tartar, maple sugar,  candy canes for my adult students and BBQ rub. I was very lucky this time that I didn’t have much clothes to take back! What’s your favorite thing to buy when traveling??