Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Los Reyes Magos - The Magi Kings

The television was tuned into the local news, which was hard to hear above the lunch noise in the small cafeteria and the sounds of the traffic on the street below.  Every now and then a story would catch the interest of someone in our little group.  What caught my attention was the sound of bells jingling.  Not exactly "Jingle Bells" the song, but jingling bells that one might associate with the arrival of Santa Claus.  I turned to see the TV screen lit up with a bright blue background, snowflakes falling onto glittery ornaments and gifts, and the words "Happy Day of the Three Magi Kings."

Today is Epiphany.

Epiphany marks the visit which the astrologers or magi made the the home of the child Jesus.  "I have been studying the origin of Epiphany," Pastor Santiago said.  "The star was a sign that healing would come.  The magi sought a great healer."

I looked around and noticed packages of green tinsel (still attached at the top to their red cardboard holders) dancing from the rafters as the breeze came through the open air dining space.  Small plastic Christmas wreaths were nailed to the posts and red felt bows were taped to the walls.  For those who follow the Gregorian calendar, Epiphany is the Twelfth Day of Christmas.

"In some communities, you can see men dressed up as the kings and walking around," Sonia shared after I asked about Epiphany traditions in El Salvador.

"Really?" said the pastor.  It seemed like he considered this tradition to be outdated.

"Yes," Sonia continued.  "At the children's hospital on this day the kings visit and give gifts to all the children.  We will celebrate the Day of the Kings this Sunday with all of the children at church."  Sonia's face lit up with anticipation.  Sonia can hardly keep a secret.

As the sun went down this evening, the Christmas lights in our neighborhood came to life.  There have been lights glowing throughout the city during this time after Christmas.  The Christmas tree at Salvador del Mundo plaza and the street lights in Escalon almost make it seem like daytime below the night sky.  Yet tonight, it seems like every display is lit.  The fireworks are popping and sizzling for one last time.  Tonight El Salvador celebrates the light which can overcome the darkness and the hope that peace will conquer violence as the new year unfolds.

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