The celebration of Three Kings Day has taken on special significance for me after celebrating the event in Barcelona.
Three Kings Day (or Epiphany) is celebrated January 6 — 12 days after Christmas. The celebration recognizes when three Kings (the three wise men) reached Bethlehem to bring gifts to baby Jesus.
Whereas Christmas is the big celebration in the United States, Three Kings Day is the big celebration in Spain and Latin America.
When I was in Barcelona, I joined the crowds gathered at the Port Vell harbor for the arrival of the Three Kings by boat on the afternoon of January 5.
Parade with 1,200 participants
The Three Kings Parade that evening was an amazing event with floats, dancers, actors, performers on stilts, horses, and volunteers. More than 1,200 participants were in the parade.
From where I stood on the parade route, the parade took almost an hour to pass by!
Military mounted on horses led the parade. The horses were beautiful and the riders in full uniform. They also provided the important role of making sure all parade viewers were off the street and behind the barricades along the route.
Following the mounted horses were the city’s sanitation trucks, making sure the street was clean for the performers and floats that were coming next.
Dancers and singers in dazzling costumes entertained between each of the dozen floats.
Children’s letters to the three kings
Children receive their gifts on January 6 from the Three Kings. Instead of leaving stockings for Santa to fill, children leave out their shoes for the Three Kings to leave gifts.
The Three Kings Parade on January 5 was the children’s last chance to let the kings know their gift requests.
Throughout the parade, bicyclists pulled large postal boxes. Performers walked along the edge of the crowd and reached poles with nets into the crowd for children to place their letters into the nets. Those letters would then be placed in the mobile postal boxes for the Kings.
One group of performers pushed large baby beds, demonstrating that good little girls and boys should go to bed that evening and they would receive gifts. The children who stayed up or cried would receive coal as their gift from the Three Kings.
Each of the kings had a float, and each king’s assistants throw candy to the crowds along the parade route.
At the end of the parade, several large decorated buses showered the crowd with confetti and candy.
How wonderful to have been able to be part of the Three Kings celebration.