Friday, January 6, 2012

Cavalcade, Cake, Candy, and Kings

OUR FIRST ROSCÓN DE REYES, COMPLEMENTS OF LOLA.

We have nearly made it through our first Christmas in Sevilla.  Today is Dia de Los Tres Reyes (Three Kings Day). This morning, Jerry and I enjoyed our first-ever slices of Roscón de Reyes (a ring-shaped bread-like cake decorated with fruits symbolizing the precious gems that were supposed to have adorned the clothing of the three kings).  Lola gave us a beautiful boxed roscón when we met last night at La Perlita to watch the massive parade (cabalgata). Many roscón are unfilled and intended for dunking. Our roscón is filled with whipped cream. We have enough for 10 people, which should get the two of us through the next day or so. Good calcium. Jerry bought the ingredients and would like to make his own roscón. He loves to dunk, so maybe he'll leave out the whipped cream.

THE FIRST CLUSTER OF THE HUNDREDS OF "THREE" WISE MEN.
HANDS ARE NOT RAISED IN PRAISE BUT IN THE HOPES OF CATCHING SOME CANDIES.

The Cabalgata de Los Reyes Magos (The Parade of the Royal Magi), held here in Sevilla yesterday, was unbelievable. The parade started near the University at 4:15 in the afternoon and ended near the same location well past 10:00 at night, more than six hours later. My estimate is that they march, walk, and ride 10 km (6 miles) in that time.

INTEGRACIÓN A LAS CULTURAS (INTEGRATION OF CULTURES).  FLOAT #14.
CANDIES IN FLIGHT.

The parade makes its way around much of the old city, passing within a block of our house about an hour or so before it reaches the neighborhood by La Perlita (which is less than a 10-minute walk from here). The floats (33 of them) were ornate, fun, funny, creative, and ranged in themes from the 1812 Constitution to Cultural Exchange to Ancient Greece to Spongebob Squarepants.

NACIMIENTO (BIRTH). FLOAT #2.
MORE CANDIES IN FLIGHT.

The parade was unbelievably impressive. Filling the gaps between floats were marching bands as well as marchers and riders on horseback dressed as the Magi. The only thing that was extremely unsettling for us was the fact that all those walking and riding "Magi" had blackened their faces. I make a point of leaving behind my American sensibilities (and insensibilities) as I experience my new and much-loved home here in Spain, but I couldn't get beyond my discomfort on this one. I'll have to learn more about this and people's attitudes by talking to locals ... of all colors.

EL GRAN VISIR (THE GRAND VIZIER). FLOAT #5.
AND STILL MORE CANDIES IN FLIGHT.

Clearly, the most important part of the parade to many of the spectators is the tossing, lobbing, fast-pitching, and hard-pelting of caramelos (candies) from the people on the floats and horses to the people on the streets. I was initially in the thick of things to get my photos, but after getting struck painfully in the head a few times by hard candies, I moved out of harm's way. Next year, I'll wear a hat (and rubber-soled shoes that can be easily cleaned).

HEARTWARMING. CARAMELOS DISCOVERED ON OUR DOORSTEP THIS MORNING.
COULD THEY HAVE BEEN LEFT BY THE THREE KINGS?

28 comments:

  1. What a lovely tradition! Thanks for sharin these photos! :)

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  2. I love all the traditions that take place in your new home town. Keep them coming.

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  3. Tiger Chanter:
    Thanks for visiting!

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  4. Scott:
    And I'm sure there are many more we haven't yet heard about.

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  5. I love the fact that they seem to celebrate everything.
    It's all party, parade and food.
    Love it.

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  6. Great pictures of a 6-hour parade! Thanks for sharing them.

    I was curious about the black-face, so I looked it up in Wikipedia: "In Spain, each one of the Magi is supposed to represent one different continent, Europe (Melchior), Asia (Caspar) and Africa (Balthasar)." That would explain one, but not all three.

    Thank you for sharing the wonders of your new home.

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  7. Imagine those candies left their by some loving party goers...you are so fortunate to be able to witness this event....Cheers!

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  8. Great celebration Mitch! This must be very over-whelming and yet exhilarating at the same time!! It is very difficult to leave our 'mind sets' behind and be open minded.

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  9. But there was also a fourth Wise man, Artaban.

    Artaban is a young Magus (Wise Man) who desires to follow the star to the birthplace of the coming King, against the counsel of his friends and family. Carrying three precious jewels to give to the baby Messiah, Artaban and his reluctant servant Orontes set off to join the caravan of the three other wise men. They miss the caravan, but Artaban continues the search for his King, always one step behind. Artaban spends much of his remaining wealth and all of his energy helping the poor and unfortunate people he meets, until at the end of his life he finally finds Jesus--at His trial!

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  10. I was half expecting little candies to shoot out at me from the screen. I think you should arrange that. Ok?

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  11. Party party party....then little candies left at your door step...life is good where you are. And fun to read about.

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  12. Bob:
    We're wondering what holiday (that we're not aware of) is coming up next. We THINK we have until Semana Santa in April, but that appears to be an awfully long time to wait for a fiesta around here.

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  13. Jo:
    I was aware of Balthazar coming from Africa but still don't get the need for the face paint. Will definitely have to learn more.

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  14. sophie...^5(ron):
    My guess is the caramelos were left by our very nice neighbors who have two little boys... or it could have been the three kings. Either way, we are definitely fortunate.

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  15. Peter:
    Too bad the poor guy never got a parade. Sounds like he earned it!

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  16. Walt the Fourth:
    You know I would have if I could have! And right now I'm happy to send all the sweets your way. After a second [large] slice of roscón this afternoon, I think I might have to have tea and toast for dinner.

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  17. Casey:
    Lots of things to celebrate. Sometimes I forget.

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  18. Jim:
    It is fascinating. I always try to be open-minded but also have always had strong opinions (that I have no qualms about voicing). It's wonderful to be in a place where all those pre-conceived notions have to be discarded. But you're so right that it's not easy to leave those mind-sets behind. There's so much to learn.

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  19. I was surprised that the Spanish have "King Cakes" similar to those in New Orleans and environs and also how similar the parade is to the Mardi Gras parades. While Spain celebrates the beginning of Carnival season, New Orleans (and Brazil and others) celebrates the final says of Carnival season - before Lent begins.

    I make several King Cakes every year since visiting New Orleans some years ago. The problem with all these traditions and festivals is they wreck havoc with the waistline (which I no longer have). Beware!

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  20. Christmas celebrations last a long time where you are. What fun! And a 6 hour+ procession is very impressive (if exhausting.) NZ with its Anglo-Saxon traditions seems very dour in comparison.

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  21. This is when we would take down our Christmas tree. The round cakey thing looks delish!

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  22. Nubian:
    The round cakey think was TOO delish! Christmas gets put away this weekend. Looking forward to having things back to normal... although I've never really known what normal is.

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  23. Judith:
    And Sevilla is constantly described as conservative and more staid than many places in Spain! As for New Zealand, I would so love to get there some day. I was just talking with a friend here the other day and that was one place on both our lists! Dour is never a word that comes to mind.

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  24. Frank:
    Well, it's back to the gym -- in force -- now! But I somehow manage to maintain my waistline.

    The similarities among cultures and even different religions really is fascinating. It all goes back to the Pagans.

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  25. I'm beginning to think that you just moved to Spain for the entertainment. You Gays and your constant need to party!
    m.
    p.s. Those Wise men look pretty scary!

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  26. Mark:
    Yep, Mark, that's us. Partiers. In California, we were usually asleep by 10:30! What has come over us?

    As for the wise men, the black-face is really strange to us. Balthazar was from Africa, but black-face? I have a lot of "field" research to do. I also wonder if this is still a common/accepted practice in Northern Spain (and Madrid and Barcelona) or if we're just a bit behind the times here. I'm told that Southern Spain is more traditional (less modern) in terms of customs. I've got a lot to learn.

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  27. Don't forget Southern Spain has a mix with Morish culture. Our Balthasar is black too.

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  28. Peter:
    I haven't been very clear about my surprise at the black-face. I do understand that Balthazar was said to be from Africa and dark-skinned. It's just that in the US, for many years now, it's been considered racist to get made up in blackface. Obviously, my friends from other parts of the world aren't reacting the same way we did. We have a lot to learn.

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