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Journals from Spain - Center for Cross-Cultural Studies

2010-03-11 Los Reyes Magos

Saludos a todos! This last January I had the opportunity to witness a holiday that we do not really celebrate in the United States. Here in Spain they celebrate El Da de Los Reyes Magos (Magic Kings in English), or the Day of the Wise Men, which in the U.S. is the day of Epiphany. The date of this holiday is January 6th, two weeks or so after Christmas. Most of us associate these Magic Kings with the traditional Christmas story from the Bible, but I dont know very many people from our country that actually recognize January 6th as a holiday. The really interesting thing about Los Reyes Magos is that this day is more important for most of the families and people here in Spain than Christmas Day is, in a way. Instead of giving out gifts that are supposedly from Santa Claus on the 25th of December, they give presents from the Wise Men on the 6th of January. Although the tradition of Santa Claus, or Papa Noel, is growing here in Seville, the 6th is still the day of gifts for most of the families I have talked to. A few of my friends and I had the privilege of celebrating this holiday in a special way this past January. On the 5th, the day before Los Reyes, a Spanish friend of mine invited us to go see one of the parades that were passing through the downtown area of the city. Every year during this time, on both the 5th and the 6tth, there are parades, or cabalgatas, with really creative and well-designed floats that go through different areas of the city and through the villages nearby. The one I saw reminded me of the 4th of July parades that we have at home. These parades are part of the celebration of the Reyes Magos and are quite popular here in Sevilla. The floats were well decorated and were filled with adults and children dressed up and throwing loads of candy at us spectators lined along the pathway. They were decorated in themes of all kinds: everything from Star Wars to Don Quijote to Disney characters to Alice in Wonderland. There were Reyes Magos as well, of course, dressed up in costumes from that era and riding horses. At the end of the night, on our walk home, we realized just how much candy they had thrown because our shoes began sticking to the pavement from the sugar from all of the crushed candy in the streets. It was quite the adventure! My friends and I had a lot of fun that night! It was a wonderful cultural mixture of people from the following countries: Spain, Germany, the U.S.A., Czech Republic, and Morocco. Yet in the end we were all united by one language, Spanish, and we could all communicate and share the experience of snatching up candy like little kids, laughing, trying to get the attention of the people on the floats, and chatting. It was a wonderful way to share in a new tradition with new friends. Until next time, Sierra Stopper

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