Tres Reyes fiesta in Cajititlan

On January 7th, two of my friends and I went up to Cajititlan, Jalisco, for their tres reyes … three kings, i.e. magi … fiesta.  Cajititlan is a small town on Lake Cajititlan just over the northern mountains from us here at Lake Chapala. 

January 6 is officially Dia de los Reyes, but for whatever reason, it is celebrated to its fullest extent in Cajititlan on January 7 each year.  That’s the day that the local celebrants take the carved wooden statues of the Wise Men, Balthazar, Melchior, and Caspar, from their niches in the church, parade them around the town, and then take them out on barcas … small boats … to bless the waters of Lake Cajititlan.   In the photo above, the three kings are in that order, from left to right … San Baltazar, Melchor, and San Gaspar, as their names are spelled in Spanish. 

It honors those three wise men…kings and priests in their own right…who travelled to Bethlehem bearing gifts of frankincense, gold, and myrrh to the baby Jesus.  Each of the carved figures carries his gift in his hands.  Here’s a closer look at San Baltazar: 

The three kings are actually last in the procession.  They are preceded by dancing groups, bands, and acolytes.  I’ll pretty much let the pictures speak for themselves …. 1,000 words and all that, you know. 

Often we forget that traditions are passed down and that kids are involved, like the one above.  I never saw his face, but given his baggy shorts and tennis shoes and his athleticism during the parade, there has to be a teenage boy under there somewhere!

And I love the ribbons on his head gear.  Best use of those packs of Christmas ribbons EVER!  Here’s another look at those ribbon headpieces:

I’m not quite sure why the devil and the old man are in the parade, but they are.  And by the look of his hand, the old man really is at least older than a teenager:

Given the blond hair on this participant, I’m inclined to think he is portraying a European, from which one of the three kings was supposed to have come. 

While the group with the fabulous feather headdresses are surely indigenous to Mexico:

After the dancing groups went by, acolytes such as this woman preceded the kings. 

The faithful among the crowd then went into the street and knelt down on a green path that had been previously laid on the street:

A rope cordon kept the rest of us from intruding.  Then came the kings, carried high on large platforms and passing over the heads of the devout, some of whom couldn’t resist snapping off a shot or two. 

One of the things that I like the most about these processions is the mixture of the prosaic and the ethereal. 

May you all receive the blessings that you deserve this year!

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About Barbara

in april of 2008, i moved from the united states to mexico. during my working days, i held lots and lots of jobs....almost all chosen because they were fun or interesting instead of how much they paid. when i started thinking about retirement (in my 40s), i realized that i would never be able to retire to a country where english was the native language. and although i had traveled to every state in the US -- and lived in lots of them -- i had never been outside the country with the exception of canada and mexico. and since you now know that i could never afford to retire in canada (even to the french-speaking area), mexico won by default.
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7 Responses to Tres Reyes fiesta in Cajititlan

  1. Joe Haussmann says:

    I first saw the note on Facebook and thought or a second it said “Feast of the Tired Eyes”. I guess my eyes are tired. You always have great pictures. What camera do you use?

    • Barbara says:

      joe, i use a four year old Kodak EasyShare C613, which cost me a whopping $60US when i bought it before i left the States. as i recall, it was the cheapest i could find. it’s turned out to be great. it’s literally a point and shoot because most of the time i can’t see the screen because the sun is shining on it! i do only basic editing on the pictures … usually just crop them. i don’t have photoshop or anything like that. my only “secret” is that i take LOTS of pictures and then discard the bulk of them.

      i’m always amazed at how good they look on the computer and am glad you enjoy them, too.

  2. Gigi says:

    We tried to see this parade once, but it was SOSOSO crowded we just walked a few blocks of booths in the higher part of town and ate (and had a great time) ….does this sound like the same place? This looks great, I won’t miss it next time!

    • Barbara says:

      gigi, it was crazy crowded this year! last time i went… a couple of years ago… i don’t remember it being like that. this year, at certain intersections, i honestly thought i was going to be knocked down and trampled….you know, like at that Who concert many years ago! but what you’re describing seems right. there are places to get away from the crowds. just get there reasonably early and park yourself near the beginning of the procession, as we did. we also went down to the lake and that’s when it got crazy and why i don’t have any pictures of the three kings on their boats.

  3. Jennifer says:

    Some of those masks scare me! But still, awesome photos 🙂

  4. Luz Virgen says:

    Thanks for sharing Barbara, I was born there and moved to the US many years ago. I clearly remember the parade, the boat’s ride..and the fireworks at night.

  5. Barbara says:

    Luz, i’ve never seen the fireworks, but based on what goes on around Jocotepec after the parade on the patronales, i’m sure the show at night is fabulous!!

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