Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Three Wise Men

On January 6th Spanish people celebrate one of their biggest holidays – the arrival of the Three Wise Men (los Reyes Magos). It is a deeply rooted Christian tradition but it is not the reason why all children in Spain love it. Santa Claus may be the deal in other countries, but in Spain The Three Wise Men are the real deal and thus the ones who bring presents and sweets to children (and sometimes to adults, too). However, even though Spanish culture is strong, it does get influenced by others, mainly Western, cultures and so now even Santa Claus (Papá Noel) brings presents at times. That is mostly due to the fact that if children receive the presents on January 6, they have less time to play with them before school resumes than if they receive them on December 24.

Los Reyes Magos, or The Epiphany, is a joyful festivity taking place not only inside people’s houses but also on the streets all over Spain with big parades and crowds set on celebrating the Three Wise Men who were first to acknowledge Jesus as the son of God. The parades usually take place on the evening before the Epiphany, January 5th. There’s also a bit of re-enactment taking place as the three kings, Melchor, Gaspar, and Balthasar, walk through the town and ‘throw’ goodies at the people standing by the parade route (of course it’s mostly children because that’s who the candies are meant for).

Later in the evening on January 5th, children put out their shoes where the kings can see them and prepare some food, water and hay for them and their camels to refresh themselves after their long journey. And then, in the morning on January 6th, they will find presents in their shoes and other signs that the Three Wise Men indeed came to their house (the camels of course drank the water and ate the hay). This holiday has been special to the Spanish people for a long time, however, since 1885 it has been officially acknowledged by the government and since then it remains the longest standing parade in Spain. 

No comments:

Post a Comment