This is almost 2 months late (travelling definitely keeps you busy), but I was lucky enough to experience Christmas in Catalonia. I returned from the UK on 5th January, which just happened to be the day before El día de los reyes magos- the day of the 3 wise men. I went to a parade in a village near Barcelona. It was magical. There were floats, like you’d get in American parades (or like what you see in American films, I have no idea if that’s actually how it is). The floats are all taken over by different people from the community. For example, a dance school will occupy one float, a drama group another, and various sports teams will have their own floats too. As they go past the crowds, the people in the floats throw sweets to the crowd. This is mainly for the benefit of the children watching. At the end of the procession, each of the 3 wise men are on their own floats, again throwing sweets at the crowds. It’s like a big finale. When it’s over, I think the idea is for everyone to go home, and there will be presents waiting for the children, as if the 3 wise men visited your house when you were watching the parade.
The following day, the 6th, is also a day of giving and receiving presents. It’s a day to spend with the family too. After a big family lunch, there is el pastel de los reyes. In this cake, there are two things:
1. a bean
2. a small king figurine
Whoever gets the bean has to pay for the cake (I’m not entirely sure but I think this may mean the following year), and whoever gets the king gets to wear the crown that accompanies the cake. There are definitely some similarities to Christmas traditions in the UK; the penny in the Christmas pudding, for example, and the crowns/paper hats you get in crackers are similar to the crown-wearing from el pastel de los reyes.