MY POINT OF VIEW #4 (by Tatiana Sisquella)
Throughout much of its history Barcelona has been divided for political reasons. One of the points about which people are still far from unanimous is the subject of the monarchy. There are those who openly proclaim themselves to be republicans, and there are those who are monarchists, some out of conviction and others by force of circumstance. There are also those who don’t care one way or the other, and then there are those who still haven’t decided. Strangely, though, there is one day each year on which nobody would dare to put into doubt the need to welcome ‘Their Majesties’ with full honours. That day is 6th January.
The Three Kings of the Orient arrive each year by sea. Their vessel docks into the port of Barcelona at about half past five in the afternoon, and they get into their carriages to ride through the streets of the city. Usually the Mayor of Barcelona goes to welcome them and to give them the official embrace, although his greeting will be far from being considered as the most important, as often happens in many other cases; but that’s another matter…..
The key question is that if you have the chance to be in Barcelona on the evening of 5th January, burn your tickets for the theatre, tear up your tickets to visit museums, and cancel your tables booked at 3-star Michelin restaurants, because the place to be is on the streets of the city. Watch out, though! You need to bear a few things in mind if you want to attend – and survive – the Procession of the Three Kings in Barcelona.
1. Have a big brunch that day, if you want to see any of what will be going on and, what’s more, if you want to see it properly, don’t waste time having lunch. Go and grab your place in whatever street you choose straight away! Remember one thing: in this country of mine, grabbing a place is an official sport – some people have even asked for it to be recognized in the Olympics.
2. Make sure you’re well protected from the waist up: one of the main attractions of the day is that they throw sweets at you from the various different carriages that pass through the streets during the procession. In fact, ¨throw¨ is not exactly the right verb in this context, it would be more precise to say that the sweets are fired or hurled at you!
3. Why not offer to become a baby-sitter? If you want to justify your presence in one of the front rows, and if you also want to catch some of the sweets and into the bargain you fancy giving a letter to the Three Kings’ page-boy requesting presents, then all you have to do is ask an acquaintance to lend you a child to set the scene. If there is no child, there won’t be any sweets, letter or good place to watch either…..and then they turn round and tell you that adults don’t believe in anything!
4. Don’t pick things up from the ground: this sound advice, given by millions of grandmothers to their grandsons and granddaughters, seems to get forgotten on the night of the Three Kings. I won’t go on about it to the little ones, but if you are old enough to drive DON´T TRY TO PICK UP THAT SWEET THAT JUST FELL ON THE GROUND. It’s very dangerous, somebody is bound to have stepped on it, the wrapping probably isn’t on it any more, and, to make matters worse, there is a very good chance that just when you have got it in your hand there will be some four-year-old who, with a look like a lost puppy-dog, will stare you straight in the eye with a look that says, ¨are you going to keep it for yourself?¨
But these are only the more practical considerations concerning the big day.
Nothing can be compared to the enjoyment of seeing the kids’ faces when they see the mounted guards go past in front of them to announce that it’s all just about to start; or when they see the carriage in which the black King is installed, with that majestic air that only the Magi, the Three Kings of Orient, can have; or the coal-wagon for those who have not behaved well, but promise to do so in the new year, with the secret hope that this will stop them feeling guilty and will increase the number of presents they get. Nothing can be compared to the fascinated, ingenuous, amazed, innocent, excited, obsessive, possessed look of the smallest children. If magic could be depicted in a painting, these would be its eyes.
Because every night is magic.