The Feast of the Magi in Spain

“If we do not become like children, we will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven”.

By Dani Cuesta SJ, Province of Spain

The solemnity of the Epiphany, also called “Day of the Kings,” is one of the great feasts celebrated in Spain. On this day full of hope, the children are the great protagonists in the family, but it is also a day when all of us remember our childhood and, in a certain way, become like children again.

The festivities begin on the afternoon of January 5th. The Three Wise Men travel through the streets of all the towns and cities of Spain in a parade full of fantasy and magic, where there is no shortage of sweets. All the children in Spain come out to see the Three Wise Men. They want to tell them, in an exchange of glances, that they have been very good and so are hoping to receive the presents they asked for in their letters. What is especially impressive on this day is that it’s not only the children who ask the adults to take them to see the parade, but the adults also seek out the children so that they can go and see the Three Wise Men with them. In this way they relive the excitement and innocence of their own childhood, remembering the adults who long ago took them to see the parade as children and who are now in heaven.

Once the parade is over, the children leave their shoes in the place where the Three Wise Men usually leave their presents. They also prepare sweets and drinks for the Three Wise Men and, in many cases, water for the camels. The little ones are nervous, but eventually they go to sleep, full of confidence that, during the night the Three Wise Men will, in some magical way, enter their house to leave them their presents.

On the morning of the feast of the Epiphany, the children get up early. They wake up their parents and siblings and go in search of the presents. It is impressive to see the children’s excited faces when they discover that the Three Kings have left beautifully wrapped packages next to their shoes. As the children open their presents; the young ones scream with excitement, and the older ones express thanks for the gifts and for the opportunity to celebrate as family. Since the Epiphany is a family celebration in the broadest sense of the word, it is also a day to visit the homes of other relatives and to share a good meal, during which everyone eats the famous ring-shaped “cake of the Kings”, the last of the Christmas sweets.

Although threatened by consumerism, the celebration of the Three Kings in Spain is still full of Christian values, and it provides a wonderful story for transmitting the faith. As regards values, the feast reminds us, as mentioned above, that if we don’t become like children, we will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Moreover, it teaches us that there is more joy in giving than in receiving, it makes us aware of the importance of family, and it makes us grateful for having a family. The feast of the Three Kings helps to transmit the faith because, despite all the attempts to secularise it, children still learn that one day long ago there were Magi from the East who set out on a journey, following a star that led them to the Child of Bethlehem.

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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