Saturday, January 06, 2007

Three Kings

Today is Three Kings or Epiphany if you prefer. Yesterday evening there were celebrations across the island, the “Kings” arriving, e.g. by boat into the port of Alcúdia (always perishing down on the pier waiting for them - no different this year). But just what is the deal with the Kings?

The deal is thus: 6 January is the day designated as the one when “los reyes” (the kings) or “los tres reyes magos” (the three magi, aka wise men) arrived, having followed the star, and offered gifts to the baby Jesus. In terms of local tradition, kids put out their shoes (and or stockings) overnight of 5 January; this is the equivalent of Santa here, with present-giving taking place on the 6th.

So much for the background. As often with this blog, there’s an angle, a coincidental angle. Why does so much here hang on coincidence? Discuss.

Anyway, yesterday I was loading the car with stuff from the Eroski Syp supermarket. As I was doing so, someone said “hello”. Who he, thought I. Smartly dressed - tie and hat - English, in his sixties with a wife shaped like and sounding not unlike Janine Duvitski (of - inter alia - “The Worst Week of My Life” fame). No idea who they were. Just said hello, and engaged me in conversation. Staying at the Estrella - till May. That’s a long stretch, said I. The response was not what I expected. It was a non sequitur. “We are Christians. Gideons.” Then something about the difficulties relating to the siesta break and people’s occupation with work. “Er?”, I thought.

Despite having been alerted by the “we are Christians” gambit, and being a civil sort, I asked if they would be going to watch the Kings’ procession. Possibly. And then some more of the unexpected. The Kings aren’t named in the Scriptures. In the Book of Daniel there is reference - fairly accurate in historical terms (allegedly), but no names - or so they said.

And yet, though I didn’t wish to enter a debate on the subject, I had always thought their names were known - Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar. But then I don’t really do religion.

Well, they were really very nice people, and I wished them a happy new year, and then as a parting gift I was given ... a copy of The New Testament and Psalms. What can I say? Well, it is the time for gift-giving.

Happy Kings.

And just to make a weather note: beautifully clear blue skies - distinctly chilly at night but warm by day. Typical for this time of year, if the last two years are anything to go by.

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