Skip to main content

Los 3 Reyes Magos

photo from Wikipedia
The Christmas season continues here in Spain. While other countries are packing up their Christmas trees, today is traditionally the big celebration for the niños here on the Iberian peninsula. The Feast of Epiphany (January 6th) is the day where the 3 wise men or the 3 kings of the orient, bring gifts to children.

Each one of the Magi is supposed to represent a different continent, Europe (Caspar), Asia (Melchior) and Africa (Balthasar) and on January 5th every city in Spain has a parade (Cabalgata de Reyes) where they go through the streets throwing out sweets and taking letters from children. Then on that night the kiddies leave out food for the kings and the camels (sound familiar?) and awake to the presents. Some families shine their shoes and leave them out in hopes of receiving something more than a lump of coal.

Some Spanish tradition holds that actually 2 of the 3 wise men came from Yemen and one year I spent Christmas Eve camped out on a deserted beach called Bir Ali just below the ruins of the ancient city Cana. There are few better ways to celebrate Christmas than swimming in the beautiful Gulf of Arabia with wild dolphins that happen by. Just you, your driver and of course the Army guy there to 'protect' you.

On the way down the coast to Aden, we also stopped at another of the legendary homes of one of the wise men, Azan. A small village of beautiful adobe homes that is definitely worth the slight detour enroute to Aden.

Two extremely different countries tied together by legend.


Erik R. said…
I had never heard that "they represent three continents" metaphor before. It seems dangerous to bring too much symbolism into "the actual events transcribed exactly how they happened" that is The Holy Bible.
Troy said…
Too fact from what I understand their actual presence in the bible is quite brief if not imaginary.

But we can't deny that they do play a very big part in the culture mythology (if that is such a thing) here in Spain.

Thanks for being the first to comment on the new blog Erik! Any comments or suggestions on how to better it would be great.

Popular posts from this blog

The 10 Best Places to Swim...?

I read a post the other day listing the 10 best places to swim around the world. Reading through them I realized that I hadn't been to even one of them!

Poor me, but then I thought, wait...I've swum in some lovely places.

Let's narrow them down to 3 in no particular order.

Ginnie Springs, High Springs, Northern Florida

If northern Florida wasn't interesting enough in its own time travel way, these springs are perfect. It's a surreal place to swim among the Spanish moss while the alligators patrol out in the warmer river that the springs flow into (the big toothy grins don't like the cooler water).

Bir Ali, Yemen

Yemen never makes it onto the glossy Caribbean style travel brochures, but the emerald green of the Arabian Sea is a mighty match for hurricane alley. Just outside the town of Bir Ali you can camp on a deserted white sandy beach that seems to extend all the way down to Aden. Behind you the sands of the beach meet and mingle with those of the desert on the vol…

The Statue of Liberated Woman

Last night's Minaret exhibit was not only a chance to share some photos that I've taken on my travels but an opportunity to retrieve and relive some dusty memories that had been lying forgotten in my 1.0 memory chip mind.

During the evening, a few astute visitors were quick to notice an early Soviet-era statue that features prominently in one of the photographs, thus refreshing my memory in regards to one of my favourite emblems in Baku, Azerbaijan.

While living in the city, my wife and I lived just off Nizami square/Metro stop in the infamous 'Beysh Barmak'. Baku's first 5-story building (thus the name) that was stodgily yet sturdily built during the years of Russian rule. The window panes hadn't been changed since the 5 year plans, allowing the winter wind free access to the flat, but it was a handy address that every taxi driver knew...especially given the fact that I speak no Azeri or Russian, no matter how much vodka I drank.

At the time we lived there (2004-…

A Bit of Iranian Know-How for Semana Santa

Writing in the local paperLocal issues with a global take. I never translate literally and the editor trims at will to make it fit. Here's my version, then theirs.

Long before San (saint) Obama’s time and the recent thaws, I recall sitting at a café in one of the posher neighbourhoods of northern Tehran. Heavy snow still sat up above us on the Alborz mountains, its run off rushing by between the towering green trees that lined the streets that snaked downhill towards the jungle of that huge city. Like now, spring was just around the corner. Young people sat all around us smoking quaylans and drinking tea, unsuccessfully trying to conceal the fact that there was more going on than tea drinking. Religiously obligatory head scarves miraculously clung from the very backs of the heads of the heavily made up young women while the young men pushed the limits of the acceptable length of hair that they could wear. True, they were afraid that the dreaded religious police, the Ershad, might…