The capstone experience of
my time in Spain was being King, for a day. Kings’ Day is celebrated every January. The day honors the Three Kings’ — Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar– visit to baby Jesus. It’s celebrated across Spain.
After a day on the farm, Erik and I came home to another of Rocio’s delicious generous suppers. Ro asked if we’d consider playing roles of Kings during the upcoming celebration. We weren’t sure, but agreed. We were clueless what lay ahead. It begins with a Saturday night parade, and ends with Sunday Mass the next day.
Our respective parts began Saturday, in the local school. We patiently sat as village women fussed with our makeup, hats, robes and period attire. My role was Melchior, the black King. As such, I needed copious black makeup spread across every visible patch of skin, and lathered throughout my beard. Indeed, I was anxious, but excited too. After making every hair so-so, the women previewed us. Once agreed we looked the part, it was show time. A local secretly drove us outside San Tirso where our carriages waited. We Kings took respective thrones, and waited. Tradition is, Kings Day parade starts with Church bells ringing throughout the valley. The excitement consumed me.
We meandered through the village waving, tossing candy, and lifting our staffs. Once in the village square, personal escorts guided us on stage. San Tirso’s mayor spoke, followed by others. Individually, we Kings gave a short message to the crowd. I’d memorized “God Bless all of You” scores over, so I wouldn’t freeze on stage. One of my dear buddies from San Tirso, Armando, translated my few additions. Adult time followed our stage appearance, and all made way for the Sideria — the local pub. Wine, liquor, and beer flowed. Kings paying for drinks was sinful.
The next day, Sunday, we repeated our dress and makeup routines for our surprise visit to Mass. Mass began, and on cue we pounded on the doors. The large doors swung open, and we proudly marched to our seats next to the priest. Our arrival accompanied beautiful music and song by San Tirso villagers. The priest insisted we join him in private chambers following Mass. Inside, he presented crystal bottles filled with special liquors and wines. We drank and dined on the very best cheese and pastries the Church kept for most special occasions.
Once it all settled, I felt I’d received the most special gift, ever, from a community: — I was King for a Day! Moreover, I’d never buy such rich, unique experience through travel promoters. How lucky I was, being part of such tradition. Viva San Tirso!