Reyes Magos

On the 6th of January it is by way of the Reyes Magos – The Wise Kings – or los reyes de Oriente, that Spanish children get their Christmas presents.

The Wise Kings are traditionally characterised by three kings: one red haired, one white haired and one black, bringing to the baby Jesus three symbolic presents: gold, silver and myrrh. It is understood these kings are coming from far away and exotic countries and travelling for days just with aim of visiting the baby Jesus.

On the night of the 5th of January, families prepare themselves to welcome the wise kings and their respective camels.

Sweets for them and water for their camels are left beside the children. When everyone is asleep the Wise Kings enter via the window or door and leave the presents for the family.

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And if you already knew some or most of the above, here’s news of a tradition within the tradition…

In the Basque Country, traditionally ‘Olentzero’ comes to the house on the night of the 24th December to drop off presents for children.

He is depicted as a Basque peasant wearing a Basque beret, a farmer’s attire with traditional abarketa shoes and smoking a pipe. On Christmas Eve, groups of people or children carry effigies of Olentzero around on a chair through the streets, singing Olentzero carols and collecting food or sweets.

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