Tres Reyes Magos

January 6, 2012 by staff 

Tres Reyes MagosTres Reyes Magos, Growing up in the mountains of Puerto Rico, I learned from a very young age that Christmas was the longest season of celebration. The festivities begin right after the turkey was carved on Thanksgiving Day and last until after Epiphany with eight days of party called the octavitas. During this long Christmas season, every household is prepared, because you never know when a parranda might land on your front door. For my family, the biggest celebration has always been that of the D?a de los Reyes Magos or Epiphany Day.

In my hometown of Casta?er, a small poblado nestled between in the mountains of Puerto Rico, Three Kings Day has always had special significance. I remember our family gathering at my grandparents’ home, waiting for the Three Wise Men to come by on their horses, tossing candy to us kids who had been waiting to see them. As the procession continued, we all joined them and walked with them to the main plaza for the celebration. Music, food, more candy and even toys were awaiting us there.

The Feast of the Epiphany is a religious holiday, which commemorates the visit of the Magi or the Wise Men — depending on the translation of the Bible used — to Mary, Joseph and Jesus. The short story of this visit is only found in the Gospel of Matthew 2:1-12. Theologically speaking, Epiphany is the celebration of God’s manifestation to the world. The Bible does not say how many Magi came to visit, but tradition says there were three, based on the presents they brought; gold, myrrh and frankincense. Tradition has even named the Magi: Melchior, Gaspar and Balthazar. I learned those names early on and I also learned that they would bring me presents if I was a good boy, obeyed my parents and did well in school.

The tradition is for kids — and adults too — to write a letter to the Wise Men with their wishes. The night before, the whole family gathers some grass for the tired and hungry horses and then this grass is put into boxes under the beds. Why there were no cookies left for the Wise Men escapes me. Perhaps the Wise Men have a deal with Santa, in which they share their horses’ grass with the reindeer, and Santa gives them some of his cookies. I don’t know… The morning of Jan. 6, on the Day of Epiphany, kids wake up to find presents under their beds.

This year, I decided to write a letter to the Three Wise Men again. Since there are three, I hope that each one of them can work on bringing me one of the presents I ask for. Here is my wish list for the Tres Reyes Magos:

First, I wish for religious communities of all faiths to start seriously talking and acting on welcoming and celebrating the trans community. Perhaps one of you, dear kings, could help our congregations understand that God has no issues with people transcending their genders. For us Christians, the mere fact of accepting a God who transcends God’s own divinity in order to become flesh and blood should be reason enough to open our doors to the trans community. Faith communities have much to gain from the inclusion of trans people. I believe that it is time for all of us in churches, mosques, pagodas and temples of all faiths to stand in solidarity with the trans community.

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