Festive period is not over at all. It still continues with Epiphany in the Christian world. The 6th of January marks two events according to the Bible. Firstly, the Three Wise Men (or also known as the Three Magic Kings) visited Jesus in the pesebre-manger. And, secondly, Saint John the Baptist baptized Jesus. That is the reason why most countries like Italy, Spain and lots of Latin American countries observe this holiday with opulent celebrations and processions, a lot of sweets and gifts.
Italia: Italian bambini are lucky kids. They receive presents twice in plus-minus 10 days time. Their Babbo Natale is generous to them on Christmas while their beloved Befana surprises them on January 6 when La Festa dell’Epifania (Feast of Epiphany) is celebrated. But sometimes this old woman isn’t as good as Babbo Natale because she bestows good children with candies and toys while bad ones get socks filled with lumps of coal and dark candies. Unlike him she rides her broomstick (being a better driver along the air highways than her male co-worker 😀 ) and maybe that’s why she has no problems with parking lots on roofs defined for sleighs and reindeer only. Befana is always described as a slim old woman and hasn’t Santa Claus’ round belly and for this reason she enters cunningly kids’ houses through the chimney. Although she looks a bit scary wearing her black shawl and covered with soot, she is really a good-hearted old woman bringing joyous and happy moments to all those who deserve them in the first days of the New Year.
España: Spanish niños await the night of the 5th of January with more anticipation than Christmas Eve because actually, they receive their presents on Dia de Los Reyes Magos (Three Magic Kings Day) and the exchange of presents is on that day not on Christmas like it is in the rest of the Christian world. The “Spanish” Santa Claus are three Magic Kings: Balthazar (he comes from Arabia, his beard is black, he wears a purple cloak and his gifts are of myrrh), Gaspar (he originates from India, his beard is brown, the cloak he wears is green and he has a golden crown with green jewels, he brings frankincense (an aromatic resin) as presents) and Melchior (he arrives from Persia, his beard is white, his cloak is of gold and presents gifts are of gold, too). According to the Hispanic Christmas tradition, the arrival of the Three Magic Kings on their camels from the Orient to Bethlehem is greatly observed in every town and village in Spain and the nationwide Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos (the Procession of the Three Kings) is extremely opulent including lots of religious re-enactments and activities for kids but the most delightful thing is the throwing of handfuls of sweets at children from the procession. When niños come back home they go to bed very early hoping to get their presents next morning but before that they leave turrones (traditional sweets for Christmas) and champagne for the Three Magic Kings and food and water for their camels which eat only at this time of the year, according to the legend. When good kids wake up in the morning on January 06 they eagerly look for their gifs, of course bought by their parents during the festive rush in the shopping centres in the very first days of the New Year. While those who have behaved poorly throughout the year get few presents, if any at all. And finally, families gather on that day and buy a Roscón de Reyes which is an enormous cake in the shape of a doughnut with a gift hidden inside. This festive cake is split into pieces and who gets the hidden present will have an extremely Happy New Year.
Felice Epifania e Befana a tutti …. 🙂 ¡Feliz Dia de Los Reyes Magos a todos! …. 🙂 Happy Epiphany to all of you …. 🙂