Friday, January 4, 2008

O Come All Ye Faithful

Just when you were cleaning out your closets for the new year, it’s time for more presents. The biggest traditional celebrations here revolve around Twelfth Night, which marks the end of the Christmas season. The Cabalgata de Reyes on the evening of the 5th is brings the city alive with the magic of Christmas as the Three Wise Men arrive in the harbour to be greeted by the mayor and parade through the streets, raining candy on all who have come to greet them.

The Feria de Reyes which lines Gran Via from carrer Muntaner to carrer Rocafort has been in full swing since December 21st and this year there are over 300 stands selling everything from traditional toys to handmade leathergoods to serious kitsch in the form of kits to paint on velvet. Of course, one of the most important items to be found there is sugary coal for all of those who have been more naughty than nice.

Tomorrow night is the big night there – the fair is open all night and the stands selling hot chocolate and churros become meeting places for all of the beleaguered salsespeople who have endured the biggest shopping day of the year and then stayed extra late to prepare for the sales that start on the 7th. If you stop by the fair for last minute presents or pass by on your way home from the Cabalgata, don’t forget to look for the cars and vans parked at the end of each block, overflowing with toys. They are manned by generous volunteers – but a toy at one of the stands, drop it off, and they will make sure it is distributed to a child who otherwise might have lost faith in the magic of the season.