Bearing Christmas cheer but no sweets, the Three Wise Men return to Madrid


MADRID (Reuters) – Flanked by dancers and stay camels the Three Wise Men paraded down Madrid’s central avenue atop glittering floats on Wednesday night as conventional Epiphany celebrations returned – with restrictions – after final yr’s COVID-19 cancellations.

Most Spanish youngsters obtain their Christmas presents on Jan. 6, the day when Melchior, Balthazar and Caspar are mentioned to have visited the toddler Christ with presents of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Parades held throughout Spain on the night earlier than often draw enormous crowds but they have been all cancelled final yr to restrict infections. This yr many cities and villages have allowed festivities to go forward with numerous restrictions.

Madrid authorities restricted attendance to 7,000 individuals, whereas contributors have been banned from throwing sweets into the crowd – often a pivotal a part of the festivities.

“It’s the most stunning day of the yr and we have been ready a very long time to see them, the kings,” mentioned Adela de Juan who introduced her three youngsters to the parade.

Firefighters waved from the again of an previous truck festooned with fairy lights and Christmas presents, whereas officers of the Guardia Civil police power rode in on white horses blowing bugles.

Giant paper polar bears and a squadron of bright-red, nine-metre giraffes additionally joined in the enjoyable.

“It appears very completely different this yr due to COVID…but we could not take away that pleasure from the youngsters,” mentioned Roberto Tipanta in the crowd close to the Gregorio Maranon sq..

Infections in Spain have hit new highs since the Omicron variant, which accounted for some 43% of instances in the week earlier than Christmas, was detected.

The nationwide an infection price as measured over the previous 14 days rose to a brand new report of two,574 instances per 100,000 individuals on Wednesday, a greater than 10-fold enhance since the starting of December. Intensive care occupancy reached 21.6%, up from 8% a month in the past but lower than half the peak of 43% recorded final January.

(Additional reporting and writing by Nathan Allen; modifying by Diane Craft)

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