The 3 Wise Men and other international Christmas customs

The entertainment organization always represents the more well-known part of Christmas, with Santa Claus in the lead. His legend returns in time hundreds of years, starting with a monk who shared his wealth in what we know now as Turkey. This progressed to the red and white dressed male who enters your home through the chimney, leaving presents under the Christmas tree.

Today, it is almost difficult to not understand who he is and what his story involves. But he is not the only one walking around offering presents. Even though this tradition is becoming acknowledged more and more in countries where it was not part of the pop culture, there are still numerous other characters that make their look at Christmas time.

In Spain, for example, the 3 Wise Men show up every year to bring presents for everyone. Their legend begins in the Bible, coming from the East to provide presents to the newborn Jesus.

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“The Star of Bethlehem”by Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0 The 3 Wise Men in Spain On the night of January 5, following the star of Bethlehem, the three of them– Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar– travelled from the East to discover the newborn King of the Jews and reveal him their dedication. On their arrival, they offered him presents of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. From those 3 presents, the custom grew in 19th century Spain, when they started to give presents on the day of Epiphany. The custom remained and, today, on the sixth of January kids around all of Spain wake up to presents from the 3 Wise Men.

Everything starts with a letter, a list of the presents each child wishes to get, that they send out to their majesties– they are known as the Kings of the Orient in Spain– throughout the month of December. Their arrival is highly prepared for, and it all ends on the night of the 5th of January, when parades are held on the streets of every town, and kids can see them on floats, typically tossing candies and small presents. The parades are rather a fundamental part of Christmas in Spain, and everyone– no matter whether you are a kid or an adult– collects on the streets to get the three Kings.

We even have a Christmas Carol committed completely to their arrival:

That night, biscuits and milk are left in every house for their majesties to recuperate their energy from such a long journey. Some individuals even leave buckets of water for their camels to drink from– yes, they come riding camels, how else would they get all over? Likewise, everyone living there need to leave a pair of shoes where they wish to get their presents; this way, there is no confusion regarding where they must put yours!

When night concerns an end, everyone gets up from bed to check if their majesties have actually kept in mind to bring their presents. If you were good all year, you will have something for sure, but if your behaviour has not been the best, you might find yourself with a bag of coal!

That early morning, it is traditional for families to have Roscón de Reyes for breakfast. Roscón de Reyes is an oval cake with a hole in the middle– image it like a giant donut-shaped cake– which is covered with pearled sugar and candied fruit, and can be left plain or filled with whipped cream or other fillings. The flavour is nothing to be compared to, as amongst its components it has orange bloom water, a rather uncommon component.

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“Roscones de reyes. “by brunosan is certified under CC BY 2.0 Consuming Roscón de Reyes is also a fun method to begin the day since inside of it there are little surprises: if you find the king figurine, you will win and be crowned King; if you discover the bean, you will have to pay for the Roscón!.?. !! It is a whole contest for some households. Here, you can find more about this Spanish cake, and even provide it a shot to the dish, though this one does not include the secret active ingredient, orange bloom water, which may be difficult to discover in some locations, and they replace it with brandy or rum.

Other global Christmas traditions

The 3 Wise Guys are not unique to Spain; this tradition is present in many parts of Central and South America, in countries like Mexico, Peru, or Venezuela. There, it is rather similar to the Spanish custom, with small variations depending on where you are.

In Europe, you can also find this event beyond Spain: in France and Belgium, they even have a conventional pie for that time, the Galette des Rois, constructed out of puff pastry filled with a mixture of almond cream and custard. This one also has concealed surprises inside, often a bean or other times a figurine, and the custom-made is practically like in Spain: the one that finds it is King for the day!

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< img src= "https://i0.wp.com/babylonradio.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/rsz_presents2.jpg?resize=300%2C201&ssl=1 300w, https://i0.wp.com/babylonradio.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/rsz_presents2.jpg?w=400&ssl=1 400w "alt= "rsz presents2"width="300"height= "201"/ >“Christmas provides under the tree”by Alan Cleaver is certified under CC BY 2.0 The festivity of the Three Wise Men is also present in other European countries like Germany, Poland, or Italy. The latter has its really own tradition: Befana, an old woman who, according to the legend, was requested assistance by the Wise Men to discover baby Jesus. After refusing to choose them to help, she regretted her choice and left her house carrying sugary foods. She then stopped in every home she found, trying to find the newborn, and leaving her sweets to every child she experienced. Now, she keeps doing that: sugary foods for those who have been good, and coal to the ones that have misbehaved.

Christkind, an angelical blond-haired kid, is the one in charge to give out the presents for kids in some areas of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Czech Republic, and other Eastern European countries. This tradition was started by the Lutherans, and he is a representation of Jesus as a kid himself. His check out is in some cases revealed with a bell ring so that the kids of the house understand their presents are already there.

In Russia and a few of its neighbouring areas, Ded Moroz, a long and grey-bearded old guy who roams around creating heavy frosts on his way utilizing his Posoh — his magic scepter– arrives in children’s houses, asking for tunes and poems, and providing provides if they have been well-behaved.

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< img src="https://i2.wp.com/babylonradio.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/rsz_krampus.jpg?resize=300%2C178&ssl=1 300w, https://i2.wp.com/babylonradio.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/rsz_krampus.jpg?w=400&ssl=1 400w" alt="rsz krampus" width="300" height="178"/ > “Krampus” by Giulio GMDB is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

We can also discover Krampus, the antithesis of Santa Claus, a half-demon, half-goat being who is there to punish the bad kids hitting them with his birch sticks and after that taking them to the depths of hell on the night of December 5th. He goes around, chasing and scaring people on his course, so watch out!

In some locations, Santa coexists with one or more of these legendary beings, as pop culture is now more widespread around the globe. Still, the old practices sustain, as they are culturally bound to the locations of their provenance. Taking a look at them, we can see how, although they may have been originated from very various legends, they all share common components; most of them focusing on spending quality time with household, and especially having ethical guidances, such as the contrast between great and bad, boosting a good behaviour and teaching kids to be kind.

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