For many, the Christmas season is over. Overtaken by shopping sales and new year’s resolutions. But in Spain, the main Christmas highlight is still to come. It starts on 5 January on the eve before the Dia de Los Reyes (Day of the Three Kings). In city centres all over Spain, crowds line the streets for the Three Kings Parade. We explain this more in detail in our post on Spain in January. Traditionally, the night before the Dia de Los Reyes is when children have their presents delivered (by the three kings rather than by Santa). On the actual day, in addition to children being able to open their presents, it’s also when people eat the Three Kings Cake. In Spain, it’s called ‘Roscón de Reyes’.
The Three Kings Cake: Roscon de Reyes
Technically, it’s not a cake but a sweet bread. Made with plenty of eggs and sugar, the dough is shaped into a ring to symbolise a crown. It’s usually decorated with crystallised fruit and is also often sliced horizontally and filled with cream. This might be vanilla, chocolate or something called ‘trufa’, which my colleague says is like chocolate but nicer! Being a chocolate fan, I’m keen to test that theory…
The ‘cake’ is also usually baked with a small figurine, which is often a king or baby Jesus. It’s also baked with a dried broad bean (‘haba in Spanish). Custom dictates that whoever finds the bean is responsible for buying the next year’s cake and whoever buys the figuring is the King or Queen of the celebration. In Spain, you’ll start seeing the cakes for sale from around 20 December. Whilst they’re very tasty, they’re also very sweet so not something you may want to eat a lot of. It’s why they’re a great treat to share and eat with family or friends.
An extra special treat for the lucky few
The cakes are sold in bakeries and supermarkets all over Spain (in Catalonia, it’s called the Tortell de Reis). Prices vary on the maker and the size. When I was in Malaga recently, I saw them sold for €1 as well as for €25. This year, if you’ve bought a Three Kings Cake from El Corte Ingles, you may be one of the lucky few to find a small ingot of gold (yes, actual gold!) in place of the traditional figurine. The Spanish department store has hidden a thousand of their cakes with a small ingot of gold worth €45.50 and three with an ingot worth €1,095.20!
For more reasons to celebrate in January, check out our post on Spain in January.