Epiphanies

Sixty-seven percent of Spanish children prefer to get their Christmas presents from the Three Kings than from Papa Noel (Santa Claus). Thus, tomorrow, Epiphany, is another holiday. The festivities, however, start tonight. Why have one party when you can have two (or three), or only one day of Christmas when you can draw it out to twelve?

Usually, the Three Kings parade into Madrid, tossing candy to the spectators who’ve lined up to see them (the wise spectator brings their own ladder). This year, mysteriously, the sides of Madrid buses say “the three kings travel by bus.” I’m not sure what this means, but according to the official Madrid tourism website, “from 6:30 p.m., in 25-minute intervals and in six different points of Madrid,  flashes of light will be fired in the form of a comet that will announce the imminent arrival of the Three Kings.” At that point, we can join the festivities via television screen.

Meanwhile, midafternoon, people are lining up in front of all the bakeries to purchase their king cake, their roscón de reyes.

We jumped the gun and sliced into ours last night. This year’s contained not a tiny king (the person who encounters this in their piece is king of the festivities), but a penguin.

A more secular version?

— Or maybe it’s a king penguin?

Also, today, the knife sharpener roams the streets, the sound of his pan-flute like e.e. cumming’s balloon man’s, a faint trill, somewhere far off,

far and wee.

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