Thursday, 6 January 2011

Los Reyes Magicos - by Theo

The streets of Madrid today are largely empty except for queues at the bakeries and the sweet, perfumed smell of Roscon de los Reyes, the sweet, cream-filled, circular cake with candied fruit that is the traditional fare on January the 6th.

It's a national holiday in Spain and, for many youngsters, the most exciting day of the year. For, on January 6th, Los Reyes Magicos, the magic Kings, the Three Wise men, come, bearing gifts for well behaved youngsters and coal for naughty tykes. (Some bakeries even stock sweet coal, a black, honeycomb-like sweet!) For while kids here do know about Santa Claus, he's barely made a dent; none of my students get gifts from him. Here, it's all about Los Reyes, the only grumble being that as they arrive at the very end of Christmas there's little time for the children to enjoy their presents before school starts again (tomorrow). It's a family day, though last night there may well have been a trip out to watch one of the many Calbagatas (processions), either a local one in the barrio, or the huge, municipal parade down the Paseo de Castellano. We went last year, but it started a bit late for Rosie and I doubt she'd have got much from it.

However, the 3 Kings did come to Rosie and, seeing as it's a Spanish tradition, they brought her Spanish books. An inflatable book to play with in the bath, and a beautiful pop-up book called 'Rosita juega al escondite' ('Little Rosie plays hide and seek'). What's slightly disappointing is that both are translations, though the second one is excellently translated, as they've even managed to keep the rhyme and meter intact; if there are any locally produced children's books we have yet to find them.

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