Saturday, January 17, 2009

Magi are coming to town

And for me, it's the first time it happens.

I think everbody knows the story, at least at some degree. The biblical Magi, in the Christian tradition, were three Kings coming from the east of Jerusalem to pay a visit to the recently born Jesus and to bring him gifts. When I was a child, the only tradition that my family observed was adding the statues of the three Kings after Christmas, and I think we did it on Epiphany.

What I did not know, was that in some countries like Spain, this is the day in which gifts are traditionally given to the kids, who believe that were the Kings to bring them instead of Santa Claus. This tradition is indeed very similar to Santa Claus': kids use to write letters to make their wish and promise to behave well during the new year. Here in Spain, the Kings can be seen in the shops, as I used to see Santa when I went shopping with my father. Curious, indeed. I discovered that Santa didn't exist when I was pretty young and now, almost 25 years later, I'm celebrating this new tradition for the first time! Tonight, the Kings will bring me the first gift, ever!

Another tradition which is very popular here is Spain is the Cabalgata de los reyes Magos, o the ride of the Kings. On January 5th, the Kings can be seen in the streets of many town and as they arrive to worship Jesus, they throw candies from their horses.

Another small difference is that, instead of leaving the gifts below the Christmas Tree, the Magi leave the gifts on a terrace, on top of a pair of shoes. As usual, kids leave something to eat in order to pay their respect to the Magi.

Funny. Nowadays, kids in Spain are easily exposed to traditions of other countries by means of the television, above all, and by other means such as internet. It was natural to me seeing so many Santas in front of the houses, but here in Spain it's kind of a newly imported tradition. If you were born in these days, you'll probably be eligible to double gift: one from Santa, and one from the Kings!

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