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!


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Enjoy the parade and festivities. I'd be hitting the gym hard as well with all of that eating.

Donna Volkenannt said...

Hi Sean,
Thanks for the lesson about the Spanish feast day. I haven't been blogging or visiting blogs as frequently as I used to, but I know when I visit your blog I learn something new or interesting.

In our family, January 6th is the feast of the Epiphany, by tradition the day we take down our Christmas decorations. I took most decorations down earlier this week and am still organizing them to put them away.

I'm looking forward to reading more of your posts in 2017!

Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

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