Last year when I blogged about things taking place around the island I was asked why I wasted time telling people about things I had not yet attended. I can see where they were coming from but I have at some time in the not too distant past attended most of the romerías, fiestas and parades that I have written about. For me there is nothing worse than saying how great something is and once you have the reader anticipating what they may see they find it was held several days ago! Hence what I have in the past written about and will continue to write about this year is events that will be taking place around the island that I can hopefully give you a heads-up on in case you want to attend rather than be disappointed that you have missed out.
In the UK, Christmas and New Year is pretty much wrapped up even to the point you have probably already broken at least one of your resolutions, but here in Tenerife it’s a bit like ‘Groundhog Day’ as along with the rest of Spain, those die-hard Spanish are building up to the biggest event of the year the arrival of the Magi.
January 6th is probably the most important date of the year for Spanish children. This is when gifts are given and receive, and as children across the world anticipate the arrival of Santa Claus, in Spain the children await the arrival of the Three Kings. Traditionally, the Kings leave gifts for youngsters to find on the morning of the 6th – the Feast of Epiphany which is supposedly when Melchior, Balthazar and Gaspar arrived in Bethlehem bearing their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh following the birth of Jesus. Today many children receive a present from Santa Claus but the Three Kings is the big one.
When the great night (5th January) finally arrives, thousands of children across the island take position in the streets to see the Magi parade. For anyone wanting to experience this a word of warning, nothing runs to schedule if start time is advertised as 6.00pm make sure you have your viewing spot by 7.00pm and then be ready to wait some!
On arrival at dusk be prepared for the sheer density of the crowds. Policemen directing heavy, slow moving traffic diverted away from the port in anticipation of the arrival of the Magi by boat and then before you know it they are being led to their awaiting camels.
There is loads of colour and fun during the parade as float upon glorious float comes into view, some bizarre and surreal. Bet you never knew Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella and a host of other characters where at the birth of Jesus but the kids love it. From every passing float sweets rain down like hailstones. The Kings tower above the spectators who fill every inch of pavement along the long and circuitous route to the town hall. It really is a magical night.
At the end of the spectacle, having seen the live nativity, the dancing, singing and the fireworks, happy but foot weary children filled with excitement and enthusiasm return to their homes to prepare for the arrival of the Three Kings. They place their shoes on the windowsills and fill them with straw and carrots for the Kings donkeys or if they are ‘upmarket’ Kings their camels. The next morning the children wake up early to find out what they have been left and hope it’s not a lump of coal!
The downside is that if you are anticipating a religious event this is more akin to Disney. Having seen procession in the tiny villages of mainland Spain these are very different to Tenerife that somehow manages to achieve enjoying a traditional Christmas as well as keeping bang up to date. Whatever your views as to how it should be celebrated, you’ve got to hand it to the Spanish embarking on another festival with such vigour, but they generally enjoy life and use every opportunity to party.