The Three Kings from the east arrive bearing gifts
We're a traditional people here in the Balearic Islands. Over 70% of us, the highest proportion in all Spain, still prefer the festival of the Three Kings to the Santa Claus version of Christmas. Over the last couple of decades the celebration of Christmas has changed from a quiet, almost strictly religious occasion, to the commercialised bean feast we are familiar with in the rest of Western Europe.
The Spanish always saved their present giving and celebrating to mark Epiphany, the 12th day of Christmas, when the Three Wise Men from the east arrived in a Bethlehem stable bringing gifts for the new born Christ. So for years, on January 5th or 6th, these events have been re-enacted all over the country as kids receive their presents from the Kings.
These days there's a good amount of glitter and glitz as the Kings arrive courtesy of yonder star, and showbizzy productions and parades make the whole event a memorable occasion for all. This year, as always, the biggest and best cavalcade takes place in Palma on the evening of the 5th January starting at around 18:00.
As is usual, their majesties Melchor, Gaspar y Baltasar begin their epic journey by boat, arriving at the Moll Vell jetty (opposite the Lonja) where they start their 3 km procession around the streets of Palma. This year the floats carrying them and their retinues have been revamped to give the appearance of nautical craft, which isn't such an unusual concept for three people used to sailing ships of the desert.
With fanfares of music, gorgeous costumes, hundreds of people marching and riding the floats the procession winds its way on a circuitous route through the city on a two hour journey to the town hall, all the while throwing sweets – 5 tons of them – gluten free to the massed ranks of kids and adults alike.
It's a big production and the council have spent €280,000 on it to make it really special this year with a circus, actors and a Brazilian Batucada troupe taking part. It's easy to spot the Palma route because the council have placed barriers along the way to prevent over excited kids scrambling for sweets in the way of the procession.
If you can't get to the Palma cavalcade, don't worry, there are processions of all shapes and sizes taking place in almost every town and village in Mallorca. Have a great 'Kings' and don't forget that the 6th of January is a public holiday!