The Three Wise Men, Illusion and fantasy?

Miguel Arias Sanchez

In the days before Jan. 6th. File photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES – The day of the Three Wise Men, known throughout much of the world, is here. In Cuba the day used to be celebrated. Although that was a fantasy, there is no doubt that it was also something very beautiful that children lived.

I spent many sixth of January’s from that time already distant, and for me it was something dazzling, beautiful. I remember how when the month of December began and with this the preparations for the Christmas holidays, we lived an atmosphere full of joy and dreams.

People began to put up Christmas trees in their homes with all the ornaments: balls, garlands, etc. We all wanted to finish fast to see it on, especially at night. On December 24h, the family gathered for dinner and shared the joy of those moments, we toured the houses of other relatives and in each meeting there were scenes of affection, happiness and love.

After a Christmas Day, also with a party atmosphere, came December 31st when we all awaited the year with the 12 grapes, cider and wines, that gave a touch of hope. People asked for the new year to bring much health and then prosperity and good things.

That is how we were enveloped by days of celebrations until January 6th to close the festivities, a day expected and desired by most children. I’m going back to a time and space when childhood was really healthier, when we believed in the existence of those three wise men who came in the early hours of the morning to bring gifts and sweets to those that had behaved well. Among those children was me.

I’ll never forget that once, days before January 6th, I was playing with a friend, full of innocence. The child told me: don’t you know that the wise men are the parents? And I answered: yes, they are the parents, but not thinking about my mom and my dad, but believing that the wise men were the parents of all the children of the world and that is why they brought them gifts, sweets and toys; and I continued with that fantasy I don’t know how many more years.

Many people believe that this was not good, that it was a deception that if the parents were poor and could not buy anything it was because they had behaved badly. Okay, but the parents made a great effort and something always dawned on the bed or below the little tree. My parents were poor and every January 6 we, four kids, received gifts and candy.

Today in Cuba it is difficult to celebrate this tradition. The prices have gone way up, the gifts are no longer the same, because now most are luxury items and advanced technology, which cost a lot. The stores offer many “beautiful” toys, but little useful. And parents have a salary that does not stretch for even half of the month, so much less to buy gifts.

Even so, people save how little or how much they can to buy gifts for their children. Gaspar, Melchor and Baltasar continue to encourage parents to give their children unforgettable moments that day. Will today’s children believe in these wise men? Will they know of their parents’ sacrifice to obtain those gifts?

Miguel Arias

Miguel Arias Sánchez: I was born in Regla in 1949. That’s where I went to elementary and high school. Afterwards I took courses to be a teacher and did that for several years. I did my military service and as soon as I got out I studied formally to be a teacher graduating at the University of Havana. I taught in classrooms for nearly 20 years. I had the opportunity to travel and see another reality. I returned and am currently doing different self-employed activities.

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