It may be one of the most special days of the whole year. We ventured to say the most for the little ones in the house. The day that precedes a magical night that makes both children and adults let’s live those hours with all the illusion in the world; as if we’ve just lost our innocence (some, luckily, they still keep it intact).
We are talking about January 5 before that night full of nerves and gifts (or coal, depending on how we have behaved the 364 days before). And the most important appointment usually takes place at the end of the afternoon when all over Spain, large cities and even the smallest towns, enjoy the parade of their Majesties the Magi.
An event that appears in the New Testament where it is recorded that the kings Melchior, Gaspar and Baltasar they traveled all night to bring gifts to the baby Jesus who had just been born in the portal of Bethlehem.
Coming from the East they walk our streets to entertain us with real shows of lights, color and pure fantasy. But did you know for how many years this tradition has existed in our country or what are the oldest rides that you can still see today? Keep reading.
Alcoy and its royal cavalcade of 1866
The three Wise Men have been visiting the streets of this city in the interior of the province of Alicante with their entourage and all their royal cortege since that year. The first time they went out to this town, the scene was more like a group of shepherds, dancers, musicians and pages who were escorting the Magi. That was the first parade, although in some history books a similar representation is documented, but not in the form of a parade, which it took place in Barcelona 11 years before Alcoy.
Obligatory question to each child (and not so child) is who is their favorite king and in this Alicante city the answer is simple and very repeated among its inhabitants: Baltasar, popularly known in Alcoy as el black king and that usually parades in the center of the parade that has been held every January 5 for more than 150 years.
After this very Christmas representation, the search for some of the oldest horseback riding in Spain takes us to Andalusia. To Granada to be exact. In the magical city of the three cultures was born between the years 1910-1912 (historians do not agree) which is the second oldest in our country. More than 100 years of a parade whose idea came from the Artistic Center of Granada and a group of intellectuals who were interested in rescuing the theatrical representation of the Adoration of the Magi.
Something that years later, in 1918, they began to celebrate in Seville. The third in this curious ranking of the cavalcades of the Magi with more «age» in our country.
The curiosities that surround some of the horseback riding in our country
In all corners of Spain, the picture is more or less the same and does not obey so much a religious confession. However, in each community or province they have been known to provide some scenes that unite this historical tradition that marks the end of Christmas with other customs of the area.
This is the case of the Avila town of Casavieja where, with the permission of the three kings, the protagonists are the so-called zambomberos who accompany their majesties from the East dressed in regional costumes typical of the area (an autendo of shepherds) and playing the instrument that gives them their name. Something similar happens in the Riojan town of Anguiano where for more than half a century an entourage of pages has accompanied the Three Wise Men with their torches to the entrance of the town where the locals wait with a hot chocolate.
Another of the curiosities that we can see that day takes us to the Madrid municipality of San Lorenzo de El Escorial where the Three Wise Men first pay a visit to the elderly of the town, especially those who are hospitalized or live in residences, to return them part of that old-time illusion or give them a little gift.
We all remember the image of these special characters on the back of their camels, however, they do not arrive in all parts of our country in the same way. Thus, in coastal towns such as Mahón or Barcelona (in front of the statue of Christopher Columbus) they do it directly by boat from the sea, in Gijón they appear in a helicopter that lands on the well-known San Lorenzo beach, in La Molina (Gerona) they go down a snow mountain and in the case of the children of Vitoria every year they wait to their majesties from very early on the 5th in the platforms of your train station.
But wait for what the Sevillians do to see the entirety of their royal parade. And it is considered one of the longest in our country with more than 300 floats, 3,000 people participating and a route that exceeds one kilometer. Quietly, this festive parade can last up to 5 hours. Or more.
With the parade over and the sweets distributed, the busiest night of the year begins for them. Ahead, hours of hard work for reach all the houses and distribute all kinds of wishes and illusions for next year.