It’s a public holiday today in Spain on this 12th day of Christmas, and it’s all about these guys (above): the Three Kings, also know as the Three Wise Men from the Orient, los Reyes Magos, Els Reis, or simply Reyes. You know who I mean, right? In case you don’t, check the wiki link here.
The city is awash with references (such as the chocolate kings above), commerce hopes to make a killing, as it’s the day when children are spoiled rotten with gifts, which, after a night of fitful sleep (and of course only if they have been good all year) they will find this morning, as if by magic.
In the days and weeks before today, children will have written letters and made colourful pictures for the Three Kings to let them know they have been good and ask them for the toys or other things they would like to get as presents, and dotted around the city (such as at City Hall below) royal pages, of even the Kings themselves (much like Santa Claus) receive the children to hear their stories and receive their wish lists.
As with any festivity worth its weight in gold, there is a special dish to go with it, and it’s the Tortell de Reis (or Roscón de Reyes). Those who sell it, advertise it to make sure their customers flock in droves to secure theirs. And even the Christmas lights on the street remind us that it is the season to eat Tortell and drink cava. That project to lose weight after all the indulgences typical for this time of year will have to wait just a little bit more, won’t it?!
The Tortell de Reis is a confection, and pastry bakers around the country have been working hard to make their batches on time, so their clients could buy them in advance (such as the one above) or just before today.
They come in many sizes and can have 3 different fillings: marzipan, whipped cream or custard, but all come with sugared fruit (which I tend to remove, as I’m not a fan) and sprinkled sugar on top.
They all come with a paper crown, for whoever finds the little figurine that has been hidden inside the tortell is crowned king/queen for the day. On the other hand, if you were to find the dried bean, you get to pay for the tortell. Hopefully you’ll find the figurine!! Should you wish to try your hand at making a Tortell de Reis, here is the recipe.
For those who have not been worthy of receiving presents, they will receive as ‘punishment’ some carbò dolç (carbón dulce). Another confection, that looks like carbon, but is in fact made of sugar and coloured black(ish). It seems a rather soft punishment, wouldn’t you agree? Especially when received like it is sold like this (below). I heard someone say yesterday that she would scoff at threats from her parents about receiving carbon instead of presents when she was little, for she loved the sugared confection and delighted in getting it!
What would you be getting today? Presents, or carbon? Whichever it may be, have a great weekend!