They have yet to be replaced in popularity by Papa Noel (a recent poll suggests), and presents are delivered on the night of the 5th to be opened on the 6th January.
Before the Kings deliver presents they share their munificence with the locals from horseback, a float or a trailer. Families follow the Kings as they toss sweets to the eager kiddies (and some slightly older participants).
Whilst Málaga has a spectacular procession, each village in the region will provide its own at varying levels of pomp. We trotted down to Benajarafe to witness Papa Noel driving their Majesties around the town as sweets were launched from the back of a decorated trailer.
|Baltasar having a jolly time.|
Baltasar, the African King, was a blacked up local - political correctness has yet to truly arrive in Spain, which has both its good and bad points - who was the most jolly of these three particular incarnations of the Kings.
|Poitical Correctness may be lacking but Health & Safety made a surprise appearance.|
"'Hombre, your wig's on backwards; we can't have that, you can't see nada."
We walked level with the trailer in order to witness the frenzy of sweet gathering, picture the human equivalent of seagulls following a fishing trawler, and I swear that Melchor took sadistic pleasure in aiming the sweets missile-like in my direction.
Having walked up the hill a little way with the procession we retreated for caña and tapas on the beach front. Benajarafe is a typical Axarquian fishing/agricultural village that has grown to accomodate the Costa del Sol's tourist economy. The good thing is that, being to the east of Málaga, it has yet to be ruined by hotels that block the seaview from any smaller properties that dare to be more than 50 metres from the shoreline. It is still very Andalucían in look and feel.
|The fishermen still have the huts from which they prepare|
and sell their catch.
The area of Benajarafe has been occupied since Paleolithic times, like much of the coast. The name derives from the time of the Muslim occupation, though the translation of the name is open to interpretation as either Son of Height or House of the Knoll (it can't be both high and just a knoll!).
We timed our tapas to perfection as the Kings made their way along the Paseo Maritimo, still dolling out sweets, though the number of followers had dwindled.
A final wave to the Wise Men of Benajarafe and we made our way home as the sun set over the procession.