What Do Children Do With Their Shoes in Spain on January 5?
In Spain, the arrival of January 5th is eagerly awaited by children as it brings one of the most exciting and magical nights of the year – the eve of Epiphany, also known as Three Kings’ Day or the Feast of the Epiphany. On this day, children across the country eagerly prepare their shoes for a unique and enchanting tradition.
The tradition revolves around the belief that the Three Wise Men, also known as the Three Kings or Magi, visit every home during the night of January 5th to leave gifts for the children who have been good throughout the year. Just as children in other countries eagerly await the arrival of Santa Claus, Spanish children excitedly look forward to the arrival of the Three Kings.
To prepare for the arrival of the Three Kings, children leave their shoes out on the night of January 5th. They clean and polish their shoes, making them as presentable as possible. The shoes are then placed near a window or by the door, in the hope that the Three Kings will find them easily and fill them with gifts.
Children often leave out water, hay, or grass for the camels that the Three Kings ride on. According to the tradition, the camels are tired after their long journey and appreciate a snack while the Three Kings deliver gifts. It is not uncommon to find carrots or apples left alongside the shoes as treats for the camels.
In the morning of January 6th, children wake up filled with anticipation, eager to see what gifts the Three Kings have left in their shoes. Excitement fills the air as they rush to check their shoes, hoping to find them brimming with presents. If a child has been naughty, they may find a piece of coal or a small bag of salt instead of gifts, serving as a reminder to be better behaved in the coming year.
The celebration of Three Kings’ Day doesn’t end with the morning gift exchange. On this day, families gather together to enjoy a special meal, often consisting of traditional dishes such as roscón de Reyes, a circular cake with candied fruit representing the crowns of the Three Kings. Inside the cake, a small figurine and a dry bean are hidden. The one who finds the figurine is said to have good luck for the year, while the one who finds the bean must buy the roscón de Reyes the following year.
1. Who are the Three Kings?
The Three Kings, also known as the Three Wise Men or Magi, are characters from the Bible who visited baby Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
2. Are the Three Kings celebrated in all regions of Spain?
Yes, the celebration of Three Kings’ Day is widely observed throughout Spain and is considered one of the most important holidays.
3. Do children receive gifts from both Santa Claus and the Three Kings?
In Spain, the focus is primarily on the Three Kings, and they are the ones who bring gifts to children on January 5th. However, some families also incorporate Santa Claus into their celebrations, and children may receive additional gifts from him on Christmas Day.
4. How does the tradition of leaving shoes out differ from hanging stockings?
While the concept of receiving gifts is similar, Spanish children leave their shoes out instead of hanging stockings. This tradition is rooted in the belief that the Three Kings will fill their shoes with presents.
5. What happens if it rains on January 5th?
If it rains, children often place their shoes inside the house near the Christmas tree or in another designated area. The Three Kings are said to have the ability to find the shoes wherever they may be.
6. What other customs are associated with Three Kings’ Day in Spain?
Apart from leaving shoes out, attending parades where the Three Kings make their grand entrance is a popular tradition. These parades are filled with music, floats, and people dressed as the Three Kings, distributing candy and small gifts to children.
7. Is Three Kings’ Day a public holiday in Spain?
Yes, Three Kings’ Day is a national holiday in Spain, and many businesses and schools are closed to allow families to celebrate together. The day holds immense cultural and religious significance for the Spanish people.