In Spain, most children don't wait up on Christmas Eve for Santa to come down their chimney. Saint Nicholas is present in plenty of displays, but he is certainly not a central theme. The nativity is very central in the Christmas celebration. We are, after all, in Catholic territory now.
The big day for kids is The Three Kings Day. The magi, who travelled far to worship Christ, are sort of magical men who also happen to visit houses and leave gifts for little girls and boys. The children write letters to them, and wait with eager anticipation for this January morning. School is still on holiday, primarily, it would seem, because everyone needs to finish up with this grand celebration.
Last night we attended Los Tres Reyes parade through the city center. The Kings arrived on a boat at the port and paraded through the city with a grand array of floats, dancers, and even a candy throwing machine. It was spectacular! Think Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, only with a bit more flare. We met up with a few Americans to take it all in. The boys had a front row spot (while the parents and Asher enjoyed more of a crowd view). We all loved it!
At the end, the coal truck came by. Might be my favorite float of the night. If you're naughty, those Kings just might leave you a little coal instead of gifts.
And they finished off with candy canons that fired into the crowd. You can imagine the boys' excitement. This was definitely a highlight for them! I'd say there's a good chance this will be a new family tradition for us!