The Three Kings (or simply The Kings) is the name by which the tradition calls to the visitors after the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, that came from foreign countries to pay homage and give gifts of great symbolic wealth: gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Over time, in Catholic countries like Spain , the custom of celebrating at the same time the day of the Epiphany (January 6th) and the Feast of the Three Kings was adopted, and showing the manifestation of Jesus to the non-Jewish world with these characters representing precisely this non-jewish world. Gradually, the true meaning was forgotten and the true meaning of the word ‘epiphany’, and it became a synonym for Adoration of the Magic Kings.
In some places, the authorities organized the so-called Three Kings ride on January 5, during which the characters often go on horseback or in carriages, dressed in robes and crowns, instead of the original dress which are unknown. In most places where the ride goes, apart from going on it the Magic Kings, there are also other characters. The next day, January 6, is a national holiday. That day the children enjoy their gifts.
In Spain, it is traditional that the Christmas gifts to the children are brought by the Kings the night of 5 to 6 January, competing with the recent introduction of Santa Claus on Christmas customs due to the influence of other cultures.
Before, children must send a letter to the kings listing the gifts they want and deserve credit for those who receive them. It is also tradition that the night of January 5, children leave their shoes somewhere in the house, near the door, in a window. Even sweets are left to give to the Kings and water or food for the camels. The next day there are gifts or, in the case of being bad, coal in place (it’s though a sweet coal). Lately also the adults get gifts.
That day the breakfast is typical King cake that can be eaten in many places in Spain, for tea or as a dessert at dinner. In Spain these roscones usually contain a figurine, popularly known as “surprise”.
Itinerary of 2016 Three Kings Ride on the 5th January in Málaga Center