At one time in Spain, there was no argument, it was Los Reyes Magos who delivered the toys to children but times are changing and according to a recent survey Santa Claus is just as popular.
Whilst children may not have a clear preference for either Christmas character, they do have a favourite King:
If the Magi were a pop trio, who would be Beyoncé in Destiny’s Child or Paul Weller in the Jam? Unlike those groups, in the wise men from the east, the middle one is not the leader.
Traditionally, Melchor with his long white hair and white beard is generally the favourite. He wears a gold cloak and brought the gift of gold to Jesus. He is the one thought to sneaks into the house at night and leaves surprises near the tree. In parades, Melchor throws more candy into the crowds and is seen as the kindest.
Baltasar is the second most popular King, especially in the Canary Islands. He has black skin and a black beard or possibly no beard! He wears a purple cloak and gave the gift of Myrrh to Jesus. Baltasar has the power to read the minds of children and is responsible for checking children’s letters to make sure that the toys are all going to the right place.
In a nutshell, Melchior is pro-establishment, while Baltasar is a bit rebellious and different but still represents racial harmony. Melchor is Real Madrid, Baltasar is Atlético. Melchor is Coca-Cola, Baltasar, Pepsi. Melchior is Nike, Baltasar is Adidas. Melchor is Beyoncé, Baltasar, Rihanna.
But what about Gaspar, the real underdog of Christmas?
Gaspar a red-head wears a green cloak and gave frankincense to Jesus. He is not the most loved in any Spanish region. He suffers a chronic case of middle-child syndrome. He even gave Jesus the less memorable gift of the three – gold is gold and myrrh is both expensive and exotic but Gaspar gave frankincense, often the butt of jokes! Did he get that from the discount shelf in Natura? Against this background, Gaspar was never going to be the favourite and is the true outsider.
Whether you have a favourite or not…
¡Feliz día de los tres reyes!