Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Dia de Reyes.

Three Kings' Day (Epiphany) is January 6th. It is the day in which Mexican children recieve gifts (toys, bicycles, candies, etc.). They also recieve gifts on December 25 from Santa Claus, or Baby Jesus, but Three Kings' Day is the max.

As you can imagine, the stores were full of people-supermarkets, Wall-Mart, Sam's, and all the small toy stores that are located downtown. Buying toys last minute is a way of life here. It is something adults enjoy, really. Todnight almost all stores will be open past midnight. In Mexico City many street markets will be open till dawn. Many people go after midnight to buy toys because they usually have last minute sales at that hour.

So children make their letter to the Three Kings, then tie it to a balloon and let it go. In our town we have a parade called "Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos". It has been a tradition for thirty years. A group of people get together and prepare this event each year. The money comes out of their pockets, and they decorate trailer beds with scenes that have to do with Christ's birth, always starting with the Angel announcing to Mary that she will have child. Other scenes include when the pastors are infomred to go and adore the newborn King, and ends with the Three Kings visiting and offering their gifts to Baby Jesus. The Kings are people from town who are dressed and made up, and ride by on horses (one of the kings is my kid's pediatrician, Dr. Ramón de León, but he is so made up, the kids don't recognise him). As the Kings ride by, the kids let go of their balloons with their letters attached.

Each year, an approximate of 250,000 people show up lining the streets to view the Cabalgata (our town's population is 500,000).

After the parade ends, everybody goes home to have the famous "Rosca de Reyes". This is an oval shaped sweet bread which is decorated with candied figs and cintron. Inside the "rosca" there is usually one or more small plastic or ceramic babies hidden (depending on the size of the rosca). The tradition is that whoever gets the "niñito" in his or her piece, has to pay for the tamales eaten at the feast of the "Día de la Candelaria" (Candlemass) February 2.. This is the day people literally "pick up" (levantan) the Baby Jesus from the Nativity scene, and put it away. Some people will take it to church to have it blessed, and they will even have a godmother for the baby, who has to dress the figure. There are many establishments that are dedicated solely to dressing the figure. At this event, tamales and atole is served.

So here are the photos starting with the afternoon photographing the stores downtown, till the moment when the shoes are left next to the tree to wait for our gifts in the morning. And it's at events like this in which I wish I had a good camera. The photos of the "cabalgata" did not come out well, but I hope you get the general idea.

Lots of stores downtown selling toys...

People hurrying home to hide the toys,
and leave them next to the tree tomorrow.

This is at the cabalgata. Many street vendors sell
primarily balloons, but many others sell food,
small toys, cotton candy, etc.

Lots of people.

Balloons...they have the drawings of the
three kings,

More balloons...

This is a big family event. The woman smiling there
in the middle, is a teacher from my school.
Everybody shows up herw.

Look at the crowd. We got up on a wall to see better.

The first float...

These are mojigangos, they are used to
cheer up crowds.

You can't see very well, but there are live sheep
on this float. It represents the moment when
Christ was born. The children dressed up in
front are pastors.

When the Angel informs the pastors
to go adore the newborn King.

And here is one of the Kings. Lousy photo,
but you can kind of see his costume.

Another photo of the Kings.
At this moment the crowd goes crazy, letting go of
hundreds of balloons and screaming out
the names of the Kings: Melchor,
Gaspar, and Baltazar.

My son with his ballon and letter...

There it goes....!

And back home, ready to eat our Rosca.
This is a small one, only one kilogram (about two pounds).
We are only four people.

Milk-chocolate to drink with our rosca.

Each cutting a piece...

My husband got the figure!
In the supermarket where we bought
our rosca, they put other figures in the bread.
These figures are for the Nativity scene.
This is a small chicken.
The original should be a small baby.

And now the shoes are ready for the Three Kings....

We'll see tomorrow what they bring us.

I hope you also enjoy Día de Reyes-Epiphany!
¡¡Buenas Noches!!!


Anonymous said...

Yes Angie, I really enjoyed your "Dia de Reyes".
It was very interesting for me to read about your traditions, which are so different from ours.
On Jan. 6th we have the day of the 3 Kings, too. But we do not celebrate it.
Only the Catholic people celebrate this day with the Star Singing Procession.
Children dressed like the 3 holy Kings go around from house to house with a big star made from cardboard and are singing and playing the story of following the star to the little Baby Jesus. They collect money for charity projects.
But before they leave a house, they draw a blessing with chalk on the main door of each house.
This year it´s: 20*C+M+B*10
20+10 are standing for the year 2010. The letters have different meanings. First is, the Names of the 3 kings, Caspar, Melchior + Balthasar,
2nd is, Christus mansionem benedicat (may christ bless this house).
Hope my english was good enough and you understand what I mean.

Angie said...

Wow, Luna! The customs in Germany are also very interesting. I liked the blessings on the doors. It is incredible. Thanks for sharing the information. We all learn from each other so many new things. Have a happy week!!!

Anonymous said...

That's amazing, I had no idea that Epiphany was such a huge event in Mexico. And that that is more of a gift-giving holiday than Christmas. I don't think even many of the Mexicans who live here celebrate to such an extent. I've never had anyone mention it to me. It's so interesting, I just didn't have a clue about any of that.

Anonymous said...

Angie! Your camera did an amazing job with the parade! Shooting moving objects in the dark is not easy! Thank you for sharing the parade and the balloons and especially your Holiday tree - I loved that shot!

I am delighted to know that trees are still up and house lights are still twinkling in Mexico! As it should be!!!!

And what a treat to hear from Luna and hear about the Star Singing Procession! From what I have read so far, most celebrations of the Epiphany or Three Kings are practiced by Catholics. But wouldn't it be lovely if we would all join in - in some way or another?

And with that thought I wish you and your family a very happy year!

ladybegood said...

Angie, Thanks for sharing your wonderful celebration with us--I enjoyed reading every word and seeing every photo. I love the idea of extending the Christmas holiday over the 12 day period. Happy New Year to you and your family. And thanks for answering my earlier questions about the Nativity figurines.