“Have you been good?” The question is asked in every corner of the island as January 6th draws close as this is the day when traditionally children in Spain open their Christmas presents. On the evening before youngsters eagerly await the arrival of Melchior, Gaspar and Balthazar the Three Wise Men who make a special visit to Tenerife so that the children can give their wish lists – much as we in the UK do with Santa Claus.
Even though the island is not huge the kings have various modes of transport to ensure they get to meet everyone. They travel by helicopter to Santa Cruz and Adeje, in La Laguna they let the train (or is that tram) take the strain and traditionally they arrive by boat and then camel in Los Cristianos.
The parade in Los Cristianos starts from the ferry where the kings along with Dora the Explorer, Sponge Bob, Snow White, her dwarfs and the kings’ servants, all meet and where the Kings mount their camels and the parade officially heads off through town. The whole entourage hand out sweets to enthusiastically proffered hands and follow the Arona brass band. It is the same every year – crowds pack the pavements as the procession passes the gloriously lit Church Plaza and thousands of children and parents welcome the Magi as they dismount and finally stop outside the Cultural Centre where their thrones are waiting.
Nervous children some with big smiles others feeling shy approach and hand over their letters. If children have been good all year they receive the presents they have asked for but for those who have been naughty they will get a lump of coal ….. fortunately it is sweet, cinder toffee – Yum.
The crowds Ooh! and Aah! as following the Kings and the Star from the East has led everyone to not only enjoy singing and dancing but also a live nativity and the baby Jesus. The crowds cheer as fireworks announce that the Mayor of Arona has handed over the magic key to the Kings so they can enter every house in the town to deliver gifts. And finally happy in the knowledge that tomorrow will be another special day, tired youngsters head for home.
Few dates delight young and old as much as the January 5th it is the most anticipated and the most magical for children and their families.