I felt like a 5-year-old again.
We arrived at the port around 3:30 pm to wait for the arrival of the three kings, scheduled for 5:30. There was a stage set up for the kings to greet the crowds before proceeding to the Port Authority building where they were received by the mayor, who gave them bread & salt as symbols of hospitality and the keys of the city. Around 4:30 they started playing Arabic music to get everyone in the mood and around 5 pm one of Their Majesties pages went on stage and introduced some of the other pages and the royal postmen (special pages responsible for collecting the letters that kids brought for the three kings). Everything was elaborately produced and well choreographed. The kids were totally entranced. And so was I.
Here’s what the area looked like 2 hours before the event:
And here is the same place at 5 pm:
As I explained in a previous post, the kings arrived by boat, a massive three-masted sail boat that is usually kept at the maritime museum. And here’s their arrival:
From left to right we have Baltasar, Gaspar & Mechior, who according to the Spanish tradition hail from the Middle East, the Himalayas & Nubia (between Egypt and Sudan) respectively. I really enjoy this tradition because not only it has more to do with the nativity than Santa Claus, but also because it gives children a chance to get exposed to multiculturalism. The three kings (aka magi or wise men) are supposed to represent the three corners of the world, which in Biblical times meant Asia, Middle East & Africa. So all the clothes, music, props, evoked the cultures of that part of the world. In homogeneous Spain, it felt like a breath of fresh air. It was also quite fun to watch the kids clenching their letters addressed to “SS Majestades los Reyes” address “Oriente”.
We watched the kings disembark and then we went to Via Laietana to wait for the parade, during which the kings and their retinue were supposed to distribute 15 tons of candy. Here are a few more shots.
If you want to read more on Santa Claus vs Los Reyes, here’s a campaign in favour of the three kings (in spanish): click here