Posted by Julie Day

For the majority of people in other countries, today, Monday 4 January, marks the end of the Christmas festivities, a return to the grind of daily life, and the start of a new year. Shops and offices will reopen and life will continue as it was before.

But in Spain that’s not the way it goes. For those that haven’t booked the whole of the Christmas holidays off work, we’ve got two days to pretend that we’re doing our job before the last fiesta of this festive period, which, for many, began at the beginning of December.

For the very young, this is a magical time full of giving and receiving as presents are heaped upon them, not only from Santa Claus on 25 December, but also from the Three Kings, or Wise Men, on the morning of 6 January.

For parents, this is probably a stressful time of the year, with much of it spent trying to find the latest toy or gadget before they all sell out, very often leaving it until the last minute in the hope of buying everything in the sales.

And for those that have been partying hard, as only the Spanish know how, most of them will wake up on 7 January and wonder where they’ve been for the last week or so.

Christmas has become a commercialised holiday season in Spain in recent years, perhaps much more so than before, yet it continues to be a period during which the tradition of spending time with family still stands.

Almost 50% of children are set to receive some form of technological gadget, whether it be a smartphone or tablet, from the Three Kings, but more than likely almost all youngsters will still be out on the main streets of their town the night before to catch a glimpse of the arrival of the visitors from the Far East.

Wednesday this week is the 6 January and the Day of the Three Kings. The morning will start with the tradition of eating a large slice of the Roscón de Reyes, a ring-shaped doughy pastry topped with candied fruit and often cut in half and filled with fresh cream for breakfast.

There is a custom of hiding a tiny figurine of the baby Jesus within the Roscón, and whoever finds it in their piece of cake is said to be blessed and must take the baby Jesus to their neighbourhood church the following 2 February, which is Candlemas Day, the day the baby Jesus was presented to God at the Temple by his parents.

Many Roscón de Reyes bakers also add a fava bean to the dough, and whoever is unlucky enough to come across it in their slice of cake will have to pay for next year’s Roscón!

Whatever your plan for Tuesday evening and the Day of the Three Kings, let’s make it a good one as we breathe a sigh of relief that there are no more fiestas in the immediate future and we can really look forward to getting on with and making the most of 2016.

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