Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Main Christmas Presents and Fiesta Jan. 6th

Fiesta in Los Reyes, El Guro, Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera
In Spain and some Latin American countries,the 6th of January is called El Día de los Reyes (The Day of the Kings). It marks the day when the Three Kings or Magi, as related in the second chapter of the gospel of Matthew, arrived to worship and bring their gifts to the baby Jesus after following a star in the sky.  In Spanish tradition on January 6th (Epiphany) the kings  Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthazar (representing Arabia, the Orient, and Africa) arrived on horse, camel and elephant, bringing respectively gold, frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus. Children (and many adults) polish and leave their shoes ready for the Kings' presents before they go to bed on the eve of January 6. The next morning presents will appear under their shoes as the kings  take the role of Santa Claus here . Most towns in Spain arrange colorful parades representing the arrival of the Reyes Magos to town a day or two before, so children can see them on their camels or carriages and hand them letters listing their wishes.  Wine, snacks, fruit and milk are left for the Kings and their camels. In Spain, children typically receive presents on this day, rather than on Christmas, though this tradition has changed a bit in recent years, and children now receive presents on both days.
Ermita de Los Reyes in El Guro, Valle Gran Rey
The Ramo
V.alle Gran Rey's oldest church is in El Guro and dedicated to Los Reyes. Every year the Fiesta de Los Reyes in honour of them takes  place on the national holiday Jan. 6th when the 'Ramo' is made this morning at the cultural centre in La Calera. From there the procession to the chapel of Los Reyes starts at midday, led by the 'ramo' which is an artfully bound bouquet of fruit and vegetables of considerable weight. All is a noisy affair with loud firecrackers being shot into the air along the way. A traditional dance is being performed by many worshippers during the processions, accompanied by ancient chants and the 'chacarras y tambores'. The 'chacarras' are a locally made very large type of castanets, of which there is a 'male' and a 'female', the 'female' having a slightly higher pitch. The 'tambores' are Gomera's unique goat-skinned drums. After arrival there's a mass in the chapel in El Guro followed by folklore and several salsa bands and dancing until early morning.
Tomorrow, January 7th, is a local holiday in Valle Gran Rey and afternoon mass at 'Los Reyes'  will be followed by Canarian folklore and a party outside the chapel.
Finally, this year there will be additional activities and entertainment for children in La Playa's Plaza San Pedro in V.G.R. on Sat Jan. 9th from 5pm.

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