It’s January 6th, you arrive in Tenerife for some well-deserved R and R, the exhausting Christmas season now behind you, but when you venture out of your hotel you find that banks, many of the shops and even some restaurants are closed. Why?
It’s because it’s January 6th first day of the Christian season of Epiphany, and Tenerife, unlike UK, is not quite done with the festivities. In the Canary Islands, as in the rest of Spain, that means that last night the Three Kings crept silently into homes and left presents for the children, and today is a bank holiday.
Actually, depending on where you are staying, they arrived not silently, but with much fanfare, and grand parades with floats vaguely reminiscent of the famous Macy’s Parade in New York. Granted, if you are staying in Playa de las Americas or Costa Adeje much of this may escape you. Las Americas is a resort, with no history as a community and thus no traditions. It is, however, part of the municipality of Adeje, and if you venture up into the village on the evening of January 5th then you will see the arrival and all the fun of the parade.
Usually parades publicized as beginning around 6pm don’t get going until well after dark. They take place in towns and villages up and down the island, if you’re staying in the south visit El Médano, Los Cristianos or Las Galletas near Costa del Silencio to enjoy a taste of local culture. Be aware, if you have small kids, that presents are distributed to local children, but they are pre-arranged by parents, so don’t let yours be disappointed when they don’t get any.
In Santa Cruz very modern kings arrive, famously, at the football ground by helicopter. In other towns they arrive by camel, horse, vintage car or in the case of Los Cristianos by ferry, and with a variety of entourages.
Last year, for the first time, I went up to the island’s original capital, La Laguna, to see the parade as it wound its way through the narrow streets of this historic town. There was a carnival-like atmosphere as the children clamoured for candy from the various floats, which pelted onlookers with confetti and candies. Most of the floats were inspired by movies or TV shows, but it seemed that those young enough to believe were a bit overwhelmed by all the jostling.
Returning to Güimar afterwards, we found the kings (I told you they are magic) in the town square giving out gifts, and all the bars and cafés around the square chock-a-block. I imagine after all the excitement the kids sleep pretty well.
Instead of stockings, shoes are left out to be filled, and instead of mince pie and sherry for Santa, straw is left out for the camels. After all the excitement of opening presents, on the morning of the 6th roscon is eaten. Roscon might be heaven or death on a plate, depending on your point of view – main ingredients: sugar, butter, salt – it’s rich, sugary bread, topped with crystallized fruits and filled with cream or custards, and inside, like the English Christmas puds of old, a lucky person will find a magic charm, and have luck throughout the New Year
Category : about tenerife
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