Thursday, December 27, 2007

Move over Santa Claus

Like every good American, we were at the mall on Dec. 26th spending money. Of course since Christmas is past, there would be no Santa Claus, right? Santa Claus was gone alright, but in his place were the 3 kings (magi) and children were taking their pictures with them, telling them what they wanted them to bring, etc.

In the Hispanic world Santa Claus is a newcomer--through the centuries the 3 kings were the ones who brought presents, just like they brought them to baby Jesus. Yes, there have been Christmas parades here in Puerto Rico, but the big parade is yet to come! It will be on 3 kings day, Jan. 6th. At least here, children are supposed to cut grass and put it under their bed (in a box) for the camels of the magi. No grass = no presents.

In the Hispanic cultures, whether Mexico, Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic, South America, or Central America Christmas is so tied to Catholicism--that's one of the 2 times a year you HAVE to go to church, that many Christians have trouble celebrating Christmas in any way--in their mind it's too closely associated with the error they left. Where Christmas is a very secular holiday for us in the States, it isn't in many parts of the world. Here Christmas is a a paradox--people go to Mass then go out to drink and party, often until dawn.

Tol Burk

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