Saturday, 5 January 2008

Los Reyes Magos

Finally, the Christmas season in Spain is (almost) finished. Today's highlight was the Parade of the Three Kings through Madrid. It began at 6pm at Nuevos Ministerios, and made its stately way down Paseos Castellano and Recoletos to Plaza Cibeles, a distance of 4.4kms. Tomorrow is when long-suffering Spanish kids get their Christmas presents.

We got to Recoletos early, and queued for a seat on one of the temporary grandstands that had been erected along the route. Unfortunately, the stand we were waiting for filled up before we could get on it, so we wandered up the road to Plaza Colón and beyond. We saw lots of people coming prepared with the vital accessory for an occasion such as this: a stepladder.

As we passed Plaza de Colón just before 6 we saw a few angels flying off up the street, presumably to meet the Kings and guide them on their way.

Our expectations for this event were a bit vague: three guys dressed as Kings and riding camels. So we were blown away when the cavalcade arrived where we were at about 6.30 - it was a huge procession of about 50 floats, many of them quite amazing in their own right, interspersed with a few marching bands and people in historic costumes on horseback. I began to think that the Kings on their camels were going to look a bit feeble, but it turned out that the 'camels' were floats of glittering crystal-like light; absolutely dazzling.

When the parade had passed - it took about an hour - we headed down to Plaza Cibeles. I had a hunch that there would be a bit of a show on down there, and I was not disappointed. The tail end of the parade was entering the Plaza as we got there, and the Kings had picked up escorts - beautifully painted gas balloons with an acrobat suspended from each one. Awesome!

A stage had been set up in front of Our Lady of Telecommunications*, and we watched a gorgeous bit of dance by three ballerinas, listened to a speech by person unknown, and then enjoyed a terrific firework display.

Madrid certainly knows how to put on a show!

On this day it is traditional to eat a special kind of cake - roscón del reyes. It's a circular thing with a hole in the middle (like a very big doughnut) and candied fruit on the top. Small gifts may be baked into it. BetterArf had managed to buy a small one, so we ate that when we got home. Didn't find a gift though.

*Palacio de Telecommunicaciones - formerly the main Post Office, since late last year the Madrid City Hall - nobody seems to know where the main post Office is now. The 'Our Lady' tag comes from the resemblance of the building to a cathedral.


dubaibilly said...


the real nick said...

Yeah, the inevitable Octopus float! It's obvious, isn't it?

Jin said...

Can you imagine somminc like that down SZR hey mind boggles at the chaos it would create!

Just out of curiosity Keef, are you going to stay in Madrid? We're thinking about buying a spot (in case the sh*t hits the fan in SA) in or near Granada.

Keefieboy said...

Jin: Yup, we're staying in Madrid for the foreseeable future, but eventually we'd like to get a place in the 'country' - still in Spain though. Congrats on the bike!

Anonymous said...

Did you know we had a "Kings Parade" this year in Dubai, for the first time ever? Some people from the Spanish expats community organized it to make it inside the Madinat Mall. Of course, it was absolutely nothing compared with Madrid parade (first thing I see in Dubai that's not "the biggest in the world", btw) but we had a lot of fun!!

Bridget Jones said...

Bridget likes finding out about other cultures, your blog is cool Keefieboy! Have you been to a bull fight yet? Any pics?