Friday, January 8, 2010


January 6. Epiphany. You know, the days the Three Wise Men showed up at that manger with some frankinscence and myrrh. In the Spanish-speaking world they're called Los Reyes Magos, which translates to the Magician Kings, which creates a different characterization.
There is a resemblance to Santa Claus, but not the Wild Man. Their story is all about a strange light in the sky. They are men of knowledge from the "East" as the Bible says.
But why is one of them an African? African royalty is an iconic presence in Hispanic folklore. Though, on occasion, an actual black man plays the role, we usually see a lot of blackface, Max Factor, traditional minstrel, and even Renaissance/Hieronymous Bosch coal-black skin with blue lips.
The parades often look like Mardi Gras/Carnival with Fat Kings on floats throwing goodies to the crowd. Generous monarchs sharing the wealth. Come to think of it, they do kind of look like Karl Marx.
Though they look like they may have come from the unnamed African city of magicians that was the home town of the villain of the tale of Aladdin's Lamp, Wikipedia seems to think they came from Yemen, which isn't East of Bethlehem, either. Do they have Al Qaeda connections?
I keep ending up with more questions than answers. Like why did they give a baby two essential ingredients of a do-it-yourself mummification kit? Guess I'll keep investigating. Meanwhile, there's a lot silly entertainment for the children.

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