Three kings to come bearing gifts and wearing face masks
Most councils opt to bring back January 5 parades this year but with safety measures in place
Gold, frankincense, myrrh... and face masks: the three kings are on their way.
The traditional parades are set to return to cities, towns and villages across Catalonia on January 5, with safety measures in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The vast majority of local councils have given the go-ahead for processions to take place, in contrast to last year when they were dropped in favor of static displays in order to control crowd numbers.
Catalan children, therefore, will again be able to witness the spectacle of the three wise men parading thorough the streets on what is undoubtedly the most magical night of the year.
Face masks for the three kings
As well as their customary ornate crowns and regal robes, the three kings – Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar – will have to wear face masks during this year's festivities. The health authorities have also urged parade participants and attendees to keep as much distance from other people as possible.
All those attending over the age of 6 will also have to wear face masks, while they are recommended for children aged 3 to 5.
The tradition of the three kings throwing sweets to children will not go ahead in some places, including Barcelona, with authorities wanting to avoid children crowding together and lowering their face masks.
The Barcelona parade will feature some 800 participants – 500 fewer than a normal year – but for the first time will have explanations in sign language. Members of the public will not be able to attend the arrival of the three kings in Barcelona by sea, but the event will be televised.
In El Vendrell, children who are self-isolating have already been able to get their wish lists to the three kings via WhatsApp video calls instead of hand-delivering their letters.
New routes and static shows
Not all municipalities have opted to bring back parades this year. In Santa Coloma de Farners, the three wise men will greet children from one fixed position, similar to last year.
Children will need to book an appointment to visit the three kings in Sant Sadurní d'Anoia, where the council has again opted for a static event rather than a procession.
Local councils have also in some cases opted to amend the usual route taken by the procession in order to avoid overcrowding, including in Amposta and Manresa.
But whether standing still or on the move, the important thing is that the kings arrive safely in Catalonia after their long journey from the east, bringing gifts for children to open on January 6.