Two Spanish Traditions: The Three Wise Men & The Belén


 Nativity display or Belén in Valencia's cathedral

I bet for most of you winter holidays are over and the memories are slowly settling down, but here in Spain, the best is yet to come. Tonight is magic in the land of Don Quixote. Every mother's child is awaiting the arrival or the Three Wise Men (Los Reyes Magos) with lots of great presents. However, if you were a bad boy or girl, all you'll get is a small sack of sweet coal. So you better watch out!

Though Santa Claus conquered the hearts of many Spanish families that decided to adopt him during the past few years, in nowadays economy, many parents would gladly give him back. The traditional Three Wise Men (Melchor, Gaspar y Baltasar) remain everybody's favourites and tonight they come by boat or by plane and visit every little town or big city from Spain, in a parade that lasts up to two hours. Well before the night falls, kids of all ages gather on the side of the road looking forward to meeting the Three Wise Men and catching the thousands of kilos of candies and toys they will throw to the public.

Nativity display or Belén in Valencia's cathedral

In the meantime, Beléns or Bethlehems, ingenious nativity scenes, are organized in every town. For a few years now the one in Valencia is organized inside the cathedral. This is a beautiful tradition, but unfortunately the size of the model is shrinking by the year. It's not a sign from God. It's just a sign that the economy is not going as it should. People cue for hundreds of meters to see the Belén. I waited for the crowds to settle down and today I finally had a good look at this year's Baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Three Wise Men and the other little people that formed a beautiful scene of the times. The Belén has been on display for good part of the month of December. The last day it can be seen is usually the 6th or the 7th of January, both being National Bank Holidays here. Enjoy the pics of the nativity display from Valencia's cathedral!



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4 comments

  1. Steffy has never heard of the three wise men WOW.

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  2. The Three Wise Men go under different names in different languages... For example in Spanish they are called 'los reyes magos' which literally translates as 'the magi kings'. In other languages they are referred simply as shepherds... There are big differences in the translation of the Bible I supposes. It's easy to get confused.

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  3. I've never heard of the 3 wise men but I think it's a great tradition. Every country has it's own version of Santa's celebration and it's just really sad that this traditions are dying out in most places.
    The pictures are really good as well! Are they the nativity displays you've mentioned?

    Thnx for the great post:)
    Steffy

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    Replies
    1. Hi Steffy, indeed, the photos are of the nativity display or Belen in the Valencia cathedral. Some traditions are becoming more commercial by the year and sometimes that's what keeps them alive. People might loose the essence of the traditions, but I hope a little flame is always left there burning. At the end of the day, if we still feel that these Christmas traditions are about family and forgiveness, maybe that's all that matters.

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