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Gifts are brought in Spain on January 6th by the three Magi. On January 5th, eve of Epiphany, elaborate celebrations herald their arrival. In rural areas, villagers carry rattles and bells and form a procession to the edge of town in order to meet the three kings as they ride in. These efforts are always futile and parents must explain to their children that the Magi must have come into town by another route. The disappointed children then eat the sweets and throw away the straw meant to feed the traveling kings and their horses and camels.
The families then reassemble in the village church where lo and behold Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthazar and their entourage are waiting. Before retiring, the children of Spain set out their shoes along with more straw and cakes and water. In the morningthey find their shoes stuffed with toys and goodies left by the three Magi.
Spain has a rich heritage of Christmas traditions. In addition to their visit by the Magi, families also exchange gifts on Christmas morning. Christmas dinner includes roast turkey and baked red cabbage stuffed with fried onions and peppers. A sweet treat called Marzipan is a holiday favorite. Christmas dinner is never eaten until after midnight. In even the humblest of homes of Spain families gather around elaborate nativity scenes rather than the Christmas tree. The Christ child is laid in the manger on Christmas eve as a highlight of the evening.
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