The Magic of Tenerife - issue #2
January 1st, 2011


This is your genial webmaster John with the latest Tenerife Information Centre Newsletter!

In this month's issue, we'll be taking a look at:

- Three Kings Day
- The Cavalcade of the Three Kings
- A traditional Three Kings recipe
- Did you eat your grapes?


Day of the Three Kings

Okay, by now, Christmas has come and gone, as has New Year's Eve (and I hope you all had good ones), but in Tenerife and the rest of Spain, nobody has received their presents yet!

This is because it is the tradition in Spain to exchange presents on the Dia de Los Tres Reyes, or the "Day of the Three Kings".

This coincides with the Christian feastday of Epiphany, on January 6th and also marks the conclusion of the 12 days of Christmas. In Spain, this is a very important day and a national holiday.

The tradition is, of course, taken from the Bible story of the three kings, or wise men, Melchior, Gaspar and Balthazar, who visited the newly-born Jesus, bearing gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh. This incident is considered especially important, as it represents the first acknowledgement of Jesus as King by non-Jews.

This "Day of the Three Kings" is a bit like Christmas Day elsewhere - the morning after the night before, for, like the Christmas Eve that precedes December 25th, the Eve of Three Kings Day is a big affair - and very spectacular.


El Cabalgata de Los Reyes

This celebration, with English translation "Cavalcade of the Three Kings", takes place on the evening of January 5th and is a big affair.

Throughout Tenerife, people gather in towns and cities to witness the procession, which usually starts around 7pm. The scale of the celebrations varies from place to place, but the format is generally the same.

Quite often, the three kings ride camels in the procession - otherwise they're on floats. In Santa Cruz, they arrive by helicopter, landing in the football stadium!

The town of Garachico lays claim to the oldest Three Kings parade on the island. It is also one of the most colourful and longest, lasting over three hours.

The cavalcade will include Roman soldiers, maybe on horseback, attendants and standard bearers. Midway on the procession route, the Kings meet with Herod, then continue to an area which has been set up as a nativity scene (quite often with a large group of unpredictable farm animals).

The whole thing culminates (as you'd expect) with a huge firework display, after which the Kings may hand out presents to some of the children in the crowd.

At home, children will place under their beds some old shoes or a cardboard box, filled with hay for the camels, with a wish-list placed on the top. Next morning, the presents will (hopefully) be there for them.


Rosca de Reyes

Known in English as "Three Kings Bread", this is a traditional pastry associated with the above celebrations, but timed for February 2nd, Candlemas Day, when Jesus's mother, Mary, is said to have presented her son at the Temple.

Baked somewhere inside it is a small doll representing Jesus and tradition says that whoever finds it must give a Candlemas Day party and supply a new outfit for the Nativity scene Jesus.

It can be bought in a shop - or you can make your own!


  • 3½ cups of self-raising flour
  • Cup of sugar, three-quarters full
  • Seven eggs
  • 4½ ounces of butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • Two teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon of aniseed
  • 3½ ounces of raisins
  • One teaspoon of vanilla

For Decoration

  • Strips of candied fruit: figs, oranges, lemons, cherries, etc
  • One egg (beaten), for brushing on the dough
  • Granulated sugar, to sprinkle on top


You have to create a dough. Mix the flour, sugar, eggs, butter, salt, cinnamon, aniseed, raisins and vanilla in a bowl, working it until it becomes dough-like.

Form it into a ball, coat it with melted butter and leave for up to 2½ hours in a warm place, when it will expand to double its size.

While you're waiting, the candied fruit can be cut into strips.

When the dough is ready, give it a good kneading. It should eventually be formed into a sausage shape, which should then be bent round and joined to form a large circle of dough. At this point, insert the tiny doll of Jesus.

Place the strips of candied fruit on it as decoration, letting it stand for a little while longer.

Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the granulated sugar.

Finally, it should be baked in an oven set at 360° F, or 180° C for about 40 minutes.

Result: an authentic Rosca de Reyes!


Did you eat your grapes?

If you were lucky enough to be in a traditional Tenerife venue on New Year's Eve, as midnight approached, you'll have been presented with a small bunch of grapes, plus, if you're lucky, a glass of Cava, the Spanish sparkling wine. The idea is that, on each stroke of the clock at midnight, you eat a grape and wash it down with the wine. These grapes are known as Uvas de la Suerte, meaning "lucky grapes" and the tradition apparently comes from wine growers from times past.

The clocks used in this ceremony are either from the Cabildo in Santa Cruz or the one in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. The two town council buildings take it in turns each year.

A traditional Tenerife New Year celebration will proceed, at midnight, with the obligatory firework display, followed by an all-night street party, called a Verbena, with dancing to a salsa band.

If you're in Tenerife at the end of 2011, try New Year's Eve the traditional way!


If you like this ezine, please do a friend (and me) a big favour and forward it to them.

If a friend forwarded this ezine to you and you like what you read, please subscribe by visiting The Tenerife Information Centre.

Comments? Ideas? Feedback? I'd love to hear from you. Just reply to this ezine and tell me what you think!

This is John signing off. See you next month!

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