Adalucia Tours and Discovery
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Saint Nicholas and the three Kings

08 Dec 2022

In the Netherlands, we sing every year that the Saint arrived by steamboat from Spain. Almost everyone knows that St. is born in Turkey. In the 4th century, Nicholas was the bishop of the place Myra and was declared holy. But what does this have to do with Spain? In fact, it is only about the history of Spain and the Netherlands. During the 80-year war (1568-1648) between Spain and the Netherlands there was still a lot of trade between the two countries. The Dutch exchanged gold and silver for herbs and oranges. The people in the Netherlands thought that everything came from the south and therefore also the man of the gifts: Sinterklaas. There are many more theories about Spain and St Nicholas, the best thing is perhaps that Spain is so close to Orange.

The story of Driekoningen
Apostle Matthew has written the story of the three sages (Melchior, Caspar and Balthasar). In this story, the three sages follow a star, who ultimately leads to Bethlehem. Here they find Mary with her child Jesus. They donate Maria mirre, gold and incense. The Feast of the Trinity was born around the fourth century because of the birth of Jesus, the son of God on earth, to celebrate.

Saint Nicholas is the party of the three Kings in Spain
In Spain, the children celebrate not Saint Nicholas, but on 5 and 6 January they celebrate three kings or Los Reyes Magos. The children can write letters to the three kings -Carta a los Reyes Magos-, how well they have been and what presents they would like to receive. Next comes one of the most beautiful moments, giving the letter. The children can personally give the letter to the three ways when they arrive “officially” on January 5. The evening of 5 January there is a parade of the three Kings in Spain: La Cabalgata de los Reyes. A procession of floats, circus artists, fire-spewers and all kinds of animals, and at the end of the three Kings. At the entrance of the three Kings, the Royal helpers throw candy at the children, like the Pieten sprinkle peppernuts in the Netherlands. After looking at the parades, the children go to bed early but excited and wait for Melchior, Caspar and Balthasar, who come in through the window to see what gifts they will leave behind in the children's shoes.

Children put water and bread on the window sill so that the camels can eat and drink this while the three modes do their job. The next morning the children will find presents if they have been sweet. The naughty Spanish children do not receive gifts but black coal, which is not really a punishment either because they are made of sugar - carbon dulce. With the family, breakfast is served with a Roscon de Reyes, a sweet round bread in which a statue of a king is hidden. The one who finds the statue in his role is the king that year.

The three kings in Sevilla
Three envoys of the three Kings are at the royal palace of Alcázar. There are Isabella I of Castile, Al-Mutamid and Carlos V and they will receive the little ones in the Alcázar to collect their letters to send them to their colleagues, the three sages. Many children pass by.
The three arrived on 5 January around four o'clock at their camels in the city of Seville. The tour starts from the University of Seville and ends after six hours in Palos de la Frontera Street at the Balthasar entrance. This year the parade consists of thirteen floats. With all the artistic effects, such as the chariot of the Grand-VISOR in gold and green with a large peacock. On his back is an elephant with a large peacock tail unfolded. And of course the three floats of the three Kings, each with its own canopy in the shape of a crown. The canopy of Melchior is in red tones, of Caspar green and of Balthasar blue, all combined with gold.

First of all, don't forget to give your letter in the Alcazar palace to the envoys of the three Kings. A real experience! And of course the procession. On January 5, entire families go down the street to receive the three ways during the Cabalgata de Reyes. One by one, pass the beautiful floats, decorated with bright colors and inspired by popular characters known to the kids. You have to see that and who knows how to catch your candy or presents.
And finally, you are rewarded with gifts in Spain. If you get gifts we know you have been sweet, but black coal….