In the English speaking world we know the 6th of January as the day of Epiphany, the day when the three wise men arrived from the orient bearing gifts for the baby Jesus. In the Christian calendar an important day, but usually not celebrated, and certainly not a public holiday.
In Spain this isn’t the case. The 5th and 6th of January together were traditionally bigger causes for celebration than Christmas Day. Some traditional families still consider the 6th to be the real Christmas celebration. Here it isn’t called the day of Epiphany, in Spain, the 6th of January is el Día de los Reyes, the three kings day.
Thousands of Rondeños braved the cold weather and occasional drizzle to watch los Reyes as they and their friends paraded through the streets of Ronda, beginning in the square near the Almocabar gates in the Barrio de San Francisco, then winding their way through Calle Armiñan, before turning onto La Bola, Calle Capitan Ramón y Cajal, and then Calle Pozo before finishing at the la Merced church.
Children all over Spain write letters to their favourite of the three wise men, Melchor, Gaspar, or Baltasar telling them what they want for to receive. The parade on night of the 5th is a time when los Reyes arrive in town to distribute the presents the children have asked for, so of course the parade is very well attended.
This year los Reyes threw tens of thousands of sweets, hard fruit flavoured sweets, and softer caramel toffees. The crowds got in to the swing of things shouting ‘Caramelo, Caramelo’ at every float that passed.
Cardboard cutouts of a king were thrown from the first float, whilst the second threw confetti. By the time the sweets were thrown everyone was holding aloft their cardboard king, though you’d be forgiven for not recognising a soul with the amount of confetti covering them.
After the sweets came the plastic eye patches, more sweets, and then more sweets, and still the crowd were chanting ‘Caramelo, Caramelo’.
Each year a different barrio hosts the parade, so of course the route changes from year to year as well. The brotherhoods of the Barrio de San Francisco put on a great parade this year, with many of our young Rondeños favourite characters in attendance.
The morning of the 6th Ronda’s children will be eagerly rushing to the door where they left their shoes the night before, one pair for each child in the house. Good children get presents, naughty children get a lump of coal, though we suspect nobody will receive a lump of coal this year.
Our photos were taken with a phone camera so aren’t fantastic, but on the other hand we were there to enjoy the parade with friends and family. Why not plan a trip to Ronda next Christmas and join us for the parade.