When do children receive Christmas presents in Spain?

In Spain, children traditionally receive their Christmas presents not on Christmas Day, December 25th, but rather on January 6th, which is known as Three Kings‘ Day or “Día de Reyes” in Spanish. This holiday is highly celebrated in Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries.

On the night of January 5th, children leave their shoes out, often filling them with treats for the Three Wise Men or the “Reyes Magos”: Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar. It’s a custom that children believe the Three Kings will visit their homes during the night and leave gifts or presents in or near the shoes. It’s similar to the concept of Santa Claus or Father Christmas in other cultures.

January 6th, the Day of the Epiphany, is a public holiday in Spain and marks the culmination of the Christmas season. Families often gather, and children eagerly wake up to find their gifts, following the tradition of the Three Kings bringing them presents. It’s a joyous day filled with gift-giving, family meals, and various parades or processions in many towns and cities, with the Three Kings often riding through the streets to greet children and distribute sweets.

Three Kings Parade

Do you remember the story from the Bible in which the three wise men brought presents to the newborn child? That is celebrated in Spain as the three kings march around the city of Madrid on January 5th. And guess what, on January 6th, presents are handed out, much like others are used to on December 24th or December 25th elsewhere in the world.

In the Netherlands, Santa Claus comes to the country on a boat from Spain on the first Saturday after November 11. In Hungary, Santa Claus visits houses and puts candy and other presents in the newly washed shoes on December 6th. In Spain, the big event is the arrival of the three wise men on January 5th followed by presents on January 6.

If you happen to be in Madrid on January 5, you should definitely look out for the parade which starts around 18:30 and lasts until 21:00.

The parade normally moves along the following route.
Paseo de la Castellana (Nuevos Ministerios corner of Plaza San Juan de la Cruz) – Paseo de la Castellana – Plaza del Doctor Gregorio Marañón – Paseo de la Castellana – Glorieta de Emilio Castelar – Paseo de la Castellana – Plaza de Colón – Paseo de Recoletos – Plaza de Cibeles (End of Parade).

Three Kings Parade

Date: January 5

This event also takes place elsewhere in Spain, meaning you can see similar parades in, for example, the city of Barcelona.

Would you like to read about the Christmas markets in Madrid? Or are you looking for information about upcoming concerts or running competitions in Madrid? You can find this and much more in our Madrid calendar.