Friday, 6 January 2012
The Three Wise Men arriving in Igualada
In the evening January 5, the Three Wise Men (or Biblical Magi) are welcomed all around Catalonia and Spain and many places almost compete in making their ceremony more spectacular than that of their neighbours. The parade in Igualada (Anoia) has been organized since 1895 and is thereby one of the oldest of its kind in Spain. For this reason, but above all for its popularity among the local inhabitants, it has officially been declared of cultural interest for the whole of Catalonia (Festa popular d’Interes Nacional) by the Generalitat.
The event is called cavalcada, since until 1961 Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar used to arrive on horses, but these have since been replaced by more spectacular floats, inspired by the solar system.
The parade started as a solidarity project - to spread the spirit of Christmas to children of poor families and still today does it take its starting point outside the old hospital – as a symbol of the institutions where there is always a need for some extra joy.
A special character in Igualada's version of this tradition is the page Faruk, who was introduced in 1943. He arrives on December 28 with two big books - a white one with the names of all nice children and a black one for those who have not behaved very well. His message, however, is positive: children who start obeying their parents still have time to improve before the Magi reach the town.
In spite of the crowds who gather along the streets when they finally do so, on January 5, the Three Wise Men Parade of Igaualada is surrounded by warm and friendly atmosphere. What makes is it stand out compared with those of, for example Sitges or Vilanova i la Geltrú, is the great number of people involved. This year there were as many as 800 pages carrying around parcels and tall coloured ladders in order to quite literally climb up to balconies and hand over gifts to all expectant children. To organize and coordinate all this is obviously a challenging task and a solid proof of Igualada's commitment to this most magic of nights (la nit més magica).
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Els Reis d’Igualada have their own web page where, among other things, you can listen to the song used to greet the page Faruk (Benvingut patge Faruk).
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Read more in Catalan about els Reis d'Igualada on Festes.org.