I’m sure that somewhere about eight or nine years old I had to memorize who the Three Kings were and then sing some badly out of tune song for adoring classmates’ parents afterwards. It was undoubtedly scarring as until just a couple of years ago, I couldn’t name a single one of the three kings. Then, in 2009 I saw the Three Kings parade in Girona and was quickly brought up to speed by countless very intense children making sure that the kings received their letters for gifts.
While today is the actual Three Kings Day in Spain (as well as other more sensible non-Santa countries) I went to the parade in Barcelona last night. The concept is great: the kings sail in to the port, get off the boat, get the key to the city from the mayor, and then do their parade through the heart of the center. Truth be told, while I love the event, this parade sucked. The one in Girona (a city 1/10th the size of Barcelona) five years ago was flat-out awesome, although admittedly if you blow shit up and have people doing trapeze performances through the streets of an old, Roman town, you’ll get me every time.
But, back to the Barcelona parade which in flaunting its shabbiness and corporate sponsors, it followed the same pattern as most of them. First you roll out Melchior, then Caspar, then Balthazar. The biggest hit is always Balthazar with the kids as while he is in theory Arab, he’s always presented as African here in Spain. The kids love him I assume because he doesn’t look like a white dude king and there are always exotic animals running around with him.
While Caspar kind of has a take him or leave him approach, it’s Melchior that really gets the, “meh” out of people. They always stick him at the front of parade and wheel him by really fast because nobody wants Melchior and I suspect it’s because while it’s not stated anywhere, we all know that Melchior brought the damned myrrh and no party was ever started by bringin’ the myrrh.