A Pole and the Three Wise Men

After going on holidays to Madrid using New Year’s Eve as an excuse, a Polish friend visited me in Barcelona.

It wasn’t his first time here. Last November we visited the city on foot in four days. That time he learnt the details about the Castanyada; this time he experienced the Three Wise Men’s eve and day.

On his first trip, he overcame the confusion of reading signs in Catalan or Spanish that mixed with his French and his bit of Spanish. Moreover, he witnessed with horror how I spread oil and salt on his bread just to end up asking for more. So good does bread with oil taste that in Catalan there’s a song to ask for it.

King's cake and figurine

He found the King figurine in his dessert, so he had to wear the crown [picture by him]

The evening of the 5th of January is the time for the Three Wise Men’s parade. The Poles have Father Christmas and don’t put on a show for him. My friend was amazed by the display and the amount of people clogging the streets, as well as by the confetti and candy that rained on us and covered the floor in several layers.

On the 6th, even though without presents, we had lunch with my Catalan-speaking family. Aided by his French and Spanish, he grabbed some words to guess a context—just as I did in Poland. My sister provided the funniest moment of the meal with her face when she knew he lived in Warsaw. Do you know anything from Warsaw that you didn’t learn from WWII films? She neither.

That evening he and my brother tested their Spanish and English, respectively, in a conversation linguistically monitored by me. But they weren’t the only ones speaking languages. My guest used to ask me about the previous day or our plans for later in Polish. We even spent a morning walking the declensions of the Polish cases around the Gòtic neighbourhood.

It’s kind of cool to begin the year with some cultural exchange.

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