In Mexico, Wise Men and Epiphany still outrank Santa Claus
Published: January 3, 2005
MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- The fake beards of Ivan Lira and his brothers flipped in the wind as the three men danced around, trying to convince nearby children that they were the hippest kings on the scene. Competition was stiff as some 40 trios of men dressed as Balthazar, Gaspar and Melchior invited children to get up on stage with them and make holiday gift requests. "It seems there are fewer children this year," Joaquin Lira said Dec. 29 as he closed his family's garishly decorated stage at 11 p.m. -- an early closing hour in the three kings' business. Since the 1950s, troupes of Wise Men have set up brightly colored stages in downtown Mexico City, charging families to have their pictures taken with the brightly dressed kings. In much of Mexico, Santa Claus is very much the new kid on the block in the gift-giving business, and Christmas Day has only recently become an occasion for unwrapping presents. Instead, children wait eagerly for Epiphany or Three Kings Day on Jan. 6, the traditional gift-giving day.
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