Friday, 6 January 2017
Feliz Día de los Reyes Magos!
Today is the day of the three kings here in Spain, coinciding with Epiphany, when the three kings or wise men brought gifts in the baby Jesus. It always made more sense to me to give gifts on this day than Christmas, and that's what the Spanish do. There's also a huge meal, because no Spanish holiday goes by without a huge meal. We get a huge meal on Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year's Eve, the night before Día de los Reyes Magos, etc. As you can imagine, I've been hitting the gym pretty hard to compensate.
This photo is from the Basilica of Sant' Apollinare Nuovo, built by the Ostrogothic King Theodoric in 504 AD. It's decorated in the early Byzantine style with lovely gold mosaics that no photo can really do justice to. Ravenna is filled with early church art and you'll be seeing plenty of it on this blog in the weeks to come.
The Three Kings are really popular here in Spain, and there's a big parade for them every year. It's interesting that there's been some changes in how they're depicted since the 6th century. Balthazar, the swarthy fellow on the left, is said to have come from Ethiopia. In this mosaic he's almost white. Until recent years he was portrayed in Spain by a guy in blackface. Thankfully now he's played by an actual African. Melchior is played by an old man and Gaspar by a young man, but in this mosaic the roles are reversed. I wonder why that happened?
¡Feliz Día de los Reyes Magos!