Friday, December 29, 2006
Christmas Lights in Old San Juan
Three Kings Day is celebrated in Puerto Rico on January 6th, so there are many lights alluding to the Kings. Of course, we know the Bible, doesn't call them Kings, but Wise Men, and it doesn't say they were three, but it doesn't say they weren't either. The three gifts gave rise to three, and that is good enough for me. I saw a teleevangelist critizing the Three Kings celebration, and in my opinion he had lost the big picture. The celebration focuses on the Three Kings coming to worship Jesus. What could honor him more?!
In Puerto Rico, children gather grass in a shoebox and place it underneath their beds at night. The grass is for the horses on which the Three Kings ride. In some homes, in addition to the grass they also put a bowl with water. Anyway, I did it too. One day in my late teens, I thought, well I know who the Three Kings are, so I casually asked Daddy if I still needed to put grass for the Kings. Without a moments hesitation, Daddy said if there was no grass there would be no gifts. There was never a question that there would be grass for the Reyes Magos, until I moved out and married. So when I had a family of my own, I continued to follow the tradition. At my house, I had to help the Three Kings out by the disposing of the grass and water. Late at night, around midnight, I would stealthily tuck the grass away in a plastic bag which I invaribly found transformed into a deep green liquid months later while cleaning out a closet. (Trying to do these manuveurs without waking the children was quite a feat, knowing the Kings and horses were right beside me.) The empty shoeboxes were placed under the bed again right next to the gifts the Three Kings left the children. It was always a joy to see my children's faces as they discovered their gifts in the morning. Later as I reflect, I realized it had been a good thing to do even though I had been raised "a la americana." One of my daughters who lives in Alberta Canada, also celebrates Three Kings Day, and it encourages me that my little granddaughters, though very American-Canadian, still honor their Puerto Rican traditions. Ole!!!