The annual Christmas Fair has once again returned to Palma, bringing with it festive stalls, Father Christmas, themed shows, festive music, sports, interesting guided tours and lots of nativity scenes dotted around the city, the main one of which can be found at the front of the town hall in Plaça Cort.
This Christmas Fair is very similar to the ones found in Britain: it is the perfect place to find unique gifts for your friends and family; there are endless stalls offering food that warms you to your core on a chilly night; and it is within close proximity to the main high street for your Christmas shopping or to the bars for you to get some refuge from the cold.
With time, Spain, along with many other European countries, has taken on the Christmas traditions of the US and Britain with the introduction of Father Christmas, and the opening of presents on Christmas Day from the sleigh-rider himself. However, did you know that this is an entirely new phenomenon? That this adoption of North America and Britain’s tradition is a very recent development. Traditionally, Spain celebrated the “Reyes Magos” (Three Wise Men/Kings) instead. Rather than writing letters to Father Christmas, Spanish children write them to the Three Kings who then bring gifts for the children the night before the Epiphany on 6th January.
Other differences are: that children sometimes leave their shoes outside the door so that the Three Kings fill them with presents. Also, instead of leaving food and drink for Father Christmas, this is kept for the Three Kings and their camels as this is the only time of year the camels eat and drink.
One of families’ favourite things to do is head to the main cities to see the huge Three Kings parades. In some cities, the Kings arrive on actual camels and, depending on the city, this event can draw up to 100,000 spectators. There’s magic in the air whilst children wait expectantly to catch the hundreds of sweets the Three Kings throw into the crowds. Many sharp children bring umbrellas and plastic bags so they can catch as many sweets as possible!
Another very interesting tradition that is different to what you will find in the US or Britain is the Roscón de Reyes. On 6th January families come together to tuck into this Three Kings cake which comes in the form of a ring and is decorated with candied fruit. The exciting part about eating this cake is that, if you are lucky, you will find a very interesting surprise inside. This surprise is normally a small children’s toy or a religious figurine that, if found by yourself, you will become the king or queen of the celebration. Just be careful not to choke on it!
To further enhance the image of the Three Wise Men, some families even set up the nativity scene in a way as to move the Kings closer and closer to Bethlehem with every passing day of the Christmas season. For religious families, this is an interesting way to teach the children about the story behind all the festivities and a way to spend quality time together during this special time of the year.
Whether you choose to celebrate the Three Kings or Father Christmas, make sure you add a stay at our Gran Isla hotels in Majorca to your Christmas list. It will be the perfect way to cheer yourself up when you the winter blues finally kick in after all the festivities are over…