a blog with cultural bulimia.

Friday, January 06, 2006

The Kings Feast.

Today is the end of the celebration of Epiphany in Brazil, "the day when the Three Kings or Three Magi of the Holy Bible arrived to worship and bring gifts to the baby Jesus after following a star in the heavens." It's a 12 day celebration starting after Christmas that has, along the years, got all mixed up with the pagan celebration that would befall originally on this date, the winter solstice.

A group of musicians travels through the city and countryside singing about the visit of the three kings to Baby Jesus. The Kings are now represented by Clowns - don't ask me why - no one could explain it to me. They go to homes where some kind of promise was made and needs to be paid, bringing the 'sacred flag': in my case, a promise was made that if I got out of the hospital (where I was last year around this time), a dinner would be served (at my father's farm in Itamogi) to the group and to whomever showed up. EVERYTHING IS ABOUT FOOD IN BRAZIL. So I was handed the flag upon their arrival.

There is a whole ritual on the arrival and departure. Lots of singing asking for permission to cross 3 designated points that I, as the owner of the home and beneficiary of the promise, had to grant. The tone is much more pagan than religious.

And then, at the end, food - lots of it - is served. About 300 people showed up. Fireworks. Wine. My father and his friends were very happy. I was moved. This happened last Wednesday but EVERY DAY, for the last 12 days, something similar has taken place in a different house or farm, for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner. Eat and be merry!