5 Jan 2006. Epiphany is more important to Spanish children than Christmas Day, when Santa Claus, who is fundamentally a northern European import, leaves just a token gift for them. The real day for Christmas presents is the 6 January when the Three Kings Los Reyes Magos - arrive from the Orient and distribute presents to all children. The evening before Epiphany in Madrid, and all over Spain, sees the Cabalgata de Reyes, when the Three Kings parade through the city on horseback distributing sweets to the throngs of children who gather to see them pass. In Madrid around 7000 kilos of sweets are handed out from 30 or so carriages and floats which accompany three local politicians dressed as Melchior, Balthazar and Gaspar on their entry to the city. The Madrid procession starts at the El Ritiro park, then goes to Puerta de Alcal, Plaza. Cibeles, C/ Alcal, Puerta del Sol, C/ Mayor, C/ Ciudad Rodrigo and finishes in Plaza Mayor where theatrical entertainment for the children awaits, with a performance of Twelfth Night, the Epiphany of the Magi. A special cake is made for this day known as the Rosca de Reyes similar to a doughnut covered in sugar, almonds and fruit jellies. If you are lucky you may find a plastic toy or charm that has been baked inside it which is said to bring good fortune for the rest of the year.
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Los Reyes Magos Parade
The parade leaves from El Ritiro park at 18.00. Metro stations Ritiro, Ibiza and Atocha. The municipal website is in Spanish.