Epiphany 2022: Three Kings parade returns to Madrid after COVID disruption

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Madrid’s traditional Three Kings parade was once again celebrated in the streets of the Spanish capital, delighting children and spectators after it was cancelled last year due to the pandemic.

Thousands of parents and children packed Madrid’s sidewalks despite the rain to watch the procession of mechanical puppets and decorative floats carrying people dressed as the biblical kings who are believed to have brought gifts to the baby Jesus.

This year’s parade featured a giant mechanical elephant, live camels, and acrobats, as well as a traditional fireworks display at the end.

Madrid city hall had tried to limit attendance to 7,000 spectators who obtained free tickets online, but many more people turned up along the roughly three-kilometre-long route despite the high rates of COVID-19 contagion in Spain.

And unlike past years, sweets were not thrown out to the crowd to prevent spectators from coming in close contact as they scramble to catch them.

Spanish officials also asked attendees to wear facemasks.

The Feast of the Epiphany, a Christian holiday, celebrates the Three Kings or Three Wise Men who followed a bright star to offer gifts of gold, frankincense (resin used in perfumes), and myrrh (tree gum) to the new-born baby Jesus in Bethlehem.

Christmas gifts are thus traditionally given in Spain and in many Latin American countries on January 6, the day when the three kings visited baby Jesus.

Last year Madrid held a televised ceremony welcoming the arrival of the Magi with no members of the public allowed.

Spain has confirmed nearly seven million coronavirus cases and almost 90,000 deaths during the pandemic.

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