The Three Kings as drawn by my Papi (Ruben E. Montes)
The tradition of Los Tres Reyes Magos (The Three Wise Kings) in Puerto Rico is taken very seriously. The Catholic Church declared the Magi Saints giving each his own Day of Feast. On the days following Three Kings Day the Octavas and Octavitas are celebrated. These originally were to honor the Magi.
El Rey Gaspar was Emperor of the Orient and ruled over all oriental lands. He is also represented as white but does not wear a beard. His clothes were gilded in gold. Gaspar's gift was frankincense, an aromatic oil that symbolized prayer. Frankencense was priceless and a gift for Kings. Gaspar is said to have also brought many other fine gifts for the Christ Child. It is said that Gaspar traveled the furthest to visit the Christ Child. Saint Gaspar's feast day is January 6th.
El Rey Melchor was a Nubian King and ruler of Ethiopia. Melchor was dressed in exquisite robes. His gift was myrrh, an aromatic resin that comes from the bark of thorny African trees and symbolized suffering. Myrrh was a precious comodity in the Middle East. He is also rumored to have brought many other expensive gifts and treasures along. Saint Melchor's feast day is January 7th.
El Rey Baltazar was the Sultan of Arabia. He was the oldest of the Magi and was a small and gentle man. Baltazar had a long white beard and wore elegant crimson robes. His gift was gold but he is rumored to have brought many other priceless gifts as well. Legend tells us that Baltazar died soon after in the presence of the other Wise Men. His figure traditionally goes before the others on a manger scene. Saint Baltazar's feast day is January 8th.
If you'd like to hear Puerto Rican Christmas music (Aguinaldos) and see the words, click here.
Copyright © 2011 by Marisa Montes. All rights reserved.