Wednesday, January 06, 2010

the three wise men arrived

EFE Luisma Murias

Luisma Murias

For Spanish kids, perhaps all Hispanic kids, the arrival of the Three Kings is Christmas .The season builds up to this precise magical moment when they arrive and parade through the cities in all their pageantry, throwing candies and exhorting children to go to bed early so they can do their job of bringing presents to the good ones and candy charcoal to the naughties.
The kings are accompanied by a brigade of pages who collect the pacifiers from the kids who are in transit from toddlerhood to kidhood. Another brigade collects the letters of the last minute scribes. Because children have to write a letter to the 3 kings telling them how well behaved they have been and what they want as a reward for the effort.

As Barcelona is a port city they arrive by boat, escorted by many boats from the yacht club tooting their sirens.The mayor welcomes them and gives the key to the city, the one that will help them open the doors of all the houses, so they can do their job.They are also offered salt and bread a traditional welcoming gift.Then there is a parade with floats, animals , magicians playing tricks and tons of candy.

This year we were spending some days in Oviedo, taking further notes which will help us decide our move there. We had never seen such racket at the airport full of over excited children, running and shrieking. At the first security check i wise cracked to the person and asked her if the excitement was due to the arrival of the 3 kings . She smiled and said " of course it is".
She explained that they were arriving by plane and that all those children would be let in to welcome them. And here i was ,the unbeliever, left with my mouth hanging open.

We cleared security and went upstairs to the departure lounge. There were men with walkie talkies gazing outside and giving instructions, and lots of other out of the routine movements.
Two big red fire engines drove in and parked in front of the glass windows on the ground floor, blocking the view. And from a car we saw the 3 kings getting out and climbing the stairs in one of the fingers.
The PA announced that the children who were waiting to welcome the 3 kings would go through security on the ground floor and would be escorted outside to the runway so they could take a place.There was an area under the finger which was blockaded and the city police was standing on guard.
Through the PA the arrival of the Iberia plane which was carrying the kings was announced.

There was clapping, jumping and i bet lots of shrieking downstairs on the runway.
The plane taxied and stopped in the middle of the runway as two big fire engines drove towards it. The engines spayed the plane with an archway of water as a welcoming gesture. i was awe struck .
As the passengers from the flight disembarked through the finger into the arrival lounge the three kings went down the stairs and were received by the local authorities as they were to be escorted to the VIP lounge so that they could hold court .
Not only the kids were delighted, but many adults on the second floor raced to the windows to see the arrival of the 3 kings.

Parents, relatives, as well as the whole country is in cahoots during the week of the 4th of January to transform this moment into magic.The radio and t.v.newscasters, the newspapers, the authorities, all of them help create an atmosphere where everything is possible if you look through children's eyes.
A country that goes all that way for the sake of its children must be a darn special place.
i pray,hope and wish this never change. And i'm not even Spanish.

ps. more photos of the wise men in Oviedo here

neki desu

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  1. Anonymous4:26 PM

    It shows the child in us all, that as adults we continue to help our children learn about and believe in magic. Evelyn

  2. What a beautiful festival, and I love the modern touch of the airport arrival. Looks like you had some rain in Oviedo. I hope it wasn't too cold for you.

  3. What a wonderful festival,no tatty Santas here. I like the bit about the pacifiers. Thank you for sharing this experience.

  4. I probably would have been one of those excited adults running at the window to see the arrival of the Wise Men :-)

  5. What a wonderful festival - all we get is a worn out santa on the back of a 4x4, singing Christmas carols. *LOL*

    Happy New Year to you Neki - I hope it is everything you wish for and more.

    Take care

  6. Thats what the world needs; wise men.

  7. Thanks for sharing the modern procedure - I have very fond memories of my experiences in Ronda over 10 years ago. We ate bread 'crowns' watching the procession to the church just outside our hotel, being showered with sweets, so many that they were crushed to sugar under your feet. Magic

  8. i would love to see this, and you paint the picture well. i hate how the u.s. does christmas. (my tree stays up until epiphany. and i'm not a believer-)


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