While Santa Claus (Julenissen) is the one to bring gifts for Christmas in Norway (on the 24th), it’s the Reyes Magos (The Wise Men)who bring the gifts in Spain, on January 6th.
No presents for Christmas. However, some families choose to give a couple presents both on the 24th/25th and on Jan. 6th, so that the kids can actually play with their new toys while they’re on Christmas holiday.
But the presents should normally come with the Reyes Magos on January 6th.
There are three Reyes, Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar, and they arrive on camels. If you have not been a good kid you might receive nothing but some coal. (Candy looking like coal is big this time of the year, often given as a joke to the little ones.) But if you have delivered your list of wishes to one of the kings (children often choose one favourite king to bring them the presents) and you’ve been good, then you can expect to find presents awaiting you on the morning of January 6th. Better odds still of you put out some cookies for the kings, and milk for the camels. After all, it’s about giving and taking, right? The lists can be handed in anywhere there is a king, like in shopping centres or at the big parade of the Reyes Magos, taking place in many cities on the afternoon of the 5th.
I went to see the parade here in Las Palmas. Lots of themed trucks with people in costumes throwing candy to the kids watching, before at the end, the main characters arrived, first a group of each king’s helpers, who collected wish lists from desperate little kids, eyes big with fear until the whole face cracked into a relieved happy grin as the list was safely delivered. And then the three kings, on camels, just as it should be.
Another tradition on the 6th is to eat Roscon de Reyes, a special cake containing two hidden items. A little king, and a bean. The one who receives the king is the king of the day and can wear the crown included in the box, and the one who receives the bean is the one who has to pay for the cake.
With Reyes, Christmas is officially over and daily life is back to normal. I love the holidays but it's kinda nice to be back in normal routines as well (although my routine here doesn't feel anything like what I used to call a routine back in Norway!) Wish you all a lovely week!