Friday, January 05, 2007

Happy Three Kings Day!

This is one of our most beloved holidays: Día de Reyes! Inherited from Spain, and institutionalized by the Catholic Chuch, it is observed througout the hispanic community and Latin America.

Here is a brief recap of how we celebrate it, similar activities might be found in other countries, all fun and heart warm. So FELICIDADES!
And for my anglo friends... sorry your Chrismas is over.
If you are Puerto Rican then you have to celebrate Los Reyes. After Christmas put a Reyes statue as a centerpiece on your dinning room table so the kids know - it's no over yet "faltan los Reyes."

Celebrate it Puerto Rican style, that is.... have the kids cut grass or greenery on January 5th and put it in a box under their bed. Put a small gift from Los Reyes in the box once they fall asleep - and don't forget to throw out the grass. Have a special and festive Día de Reyes meal that day. Take pictures of your children with their boxes. After dinner make it a tradition to sing a Reyes song.

Los Reyes arrive before dawn on January 6th. For centuries Puerto Rican children have celebrated Los Reyes in the same manner as their grandparents did when they were children. January 6 is called Epiphany and is traditionally the day in which the Magi arrived bearing gifts for the Christ child. Even to this day in Hispanic countries throughout the world, January 6 is the day that children receive their Christmas gifts, in commemoration of the Magi's visit.

Víspera de Reyes

On La Víspera de Reyes (the Eve of Three Kings Day) Puerto Rican children cut grass to put in a shoe box under their bed for the camels to eat. Their "wish list" is placed on top of the grass. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends ask children to put a box under their bed too - just in case.

The Reyes only come if the child has been good all year and if the children are awake they bypass the house.
On this night children sleep lightly listening for any strange noises, whispers, or maybe sounds of the camels' hooves, or any tale-tale signs of the Kings' arrival. Sometime during the night Los Reyes arrive and quietly leave their gifts for the children while their camels enjoy their snack.

In the morning the island is filled with the joy and the laughter of happy children enjoying their new bikes, skates, dolls, and other toys. It is a joyful day full of celebration. Later in the day a holiday dinner is prepared and friends and relatives join in the festivities. Relatives bring the children the boxes left under their beds now empty of grass but filled with gifts. What fun!

The tradition of Los Reyes Magos in Puerto Rico is taken very seriously. The Catholic Church declared the Magi Saints giving each his own Day of Feast. On the days immediately following Three Kings Day, the Octavas and Octavitas are celebrated. These originally were to honor the Magi.

El Rey Melchor was the Sultan of Arabia. He was the oldest of the Magi and was a small and gentle man. Melchor had a long white beard and wore elegant crimson robes. His gift was gold which was much used by the Hebrews for the Temple and was plentiful in the time of David and Solomon. Gold was not coined until after the reign of King David, was an article of commerce and was sold by weight. It is rumored that Melchor brought many other priceless gifts as well. Saint Melchor's feast day is January 7th. Saint Melchor's figure goes before the other Kings in a manger scene.

El Rey Baltazar was a Nubian King and ruler of Ethiopia. Baltazar was dressed in exquisite robes. His gift was myrrh, a precious and aromatic resin that comes from the bark of thorny African trees and symbolized suffering. Myrrh was a precious comodity in the Middle East. It was one of the ingredients of the holy ointment, Exodus 30:23, and of the embalming substance. John19:39. It is also used in medicine and as a perfume. Baltazar was also rumored to have brought many other expensive gifts and treasures along. Legend tells us that Baltazar died soon after in the presence of the other Wise Men. Saint Baltazar's feast day is January 8th.

El Rey Gaspar was Emperor of the Orient and ruled over all oriental lands. He is also represented as white but does not wear a beard. His clothes were gilded in gold. King Gaspar's gift was frankincense, an exceedingly aromatic gum used in the sacred incense for the Temple service. It is distilled from a tree in Arabia.. Frankencense was priceless and a gift for Kings and symbolized prayer. It was burned in temples to honor God. Gaspar is said to have also brought many other fine gifts for the Christ Child. It is said that Gaspar traveled the furthest to visit the Christ Child. Saint Gaspar's feast day is January 6th.

Los Reyes Magos, from Persian magu, meaning magician; members of a priestly caste of ancient Medes and Persians; name is applied also to the wise men in the Bible (Matthew ii) who followed a star to Bethlehem; the Bible story does not name them nor give their number, but Christian tradition from about the 7th century names the three Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthazar; their bodies are said to have been brought to Constantinople by Empress Helen, mother of Constantine, thence taken to Milan, and finally to Cologne in 1162 by Frederick Barbarossa; since that time they have often been called the Three Kings of Cologne

4 comentarios:

Anonymous said...

It's also the 29th anniversary of Wyatt Cooper's death. Gloria and Anderson included the annual In Memorium for him and Carter in the NYT.

Jade said...

Thanks for the reminder of Mr. Cooper's passing. I'm terrible about remembering that kind of stuff (yes, even when it applies to my real life and not just Anderson Cooper).

Jade said...

Frankly that photo begs for a caption...

"...and there was a blonde woman laying on the floor with some dogs at a party. She kept yelling out someone's name...'Oh Andy' or something like that. That's all I can remember Mister, now can I have my wish?"

Happy Day Chris.

marie said...

My strategy for the rosca is the wait till everyone gets their slice and hope that one of them got the baby statue. :)


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