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.