On January 5th every year the Madrid Metro fills with parents holding their children in one hand, and a step ladder in the other. How else are the kids going to see over the heads of all those greedy adults, that also come down for the thousands of free sweets tossed from the floats in the passing ‘Cabalgata’ procession? Led by the ‘Reyes Magos’, or three kings, this traditional parade of open-bed lorries and tractor trailers heralds the end of the exhausting Christmas marathon, a succession of ever-more important family feasts, endured every year on the 24th, 25th, 31st, 1st, and ending at last, today, on January 6th.
Today is ‘Reyes‘, when Christmas presents are traditionally exchanged all over Spain, and the whole country has the day off. An uncharacteristic calm has settled on the rainy city. The shopping is over, there’s a park-anywhere rule as relatives pour in from the provinces and stick their cars down the centre lines of the streets, on pavements – no towing or tickets today. And there’s a palpable sense of relief. At last, with all the celebrations under our belt, perhaps we can get back to our run-of-the-mill, hectic city life.