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Saturday, January 6, 2018

A Christmas Career

CHRISTMAS 2017 has been and gone, as has Twelfth Night, also known in Spain as Dia de Los Reyes Magos. In many countries around the world December 25th is celebrated as the day of the birthday of Jesus. As such it is a Holy Day that is marked by the giving of gifts between those who follow the Christian faith.

The problem with that is the true meaning of Christmas is often forgotten in the commercialising of the season.  However, for children it can be a magical time, especially for the very young who are encouraged to believe in Santa Claus who, as the story goes will reward the child if they have been “good.”

There are many people who fill the role of Santa in making appearances leading up to the Big Day. These roles involve giving of yourself to the children, but as anyone who has dressed up in the costume will tell you what you receive from the children is far more rewarding. In fact it is priceless!

This year I was invited to take the role of Santa, or as he is known here in Spain,” Papa Noel.” In doing so I made history by being the first black man in Spain to play the part. I thought the children would complain that I wasn’t the “true” Santa because I wasn’t the exact image, but no, not even one person objected. There was only one very confused child who asked me if I was one of the Three Kings known as Balthazar. I didn’t know whether she was asking me because she remembered me from having played the role of Balthazar the previous January, or just because I was a black man.

In the event it went extremely well and all the organisers were relieved that the experiment was successful. The Santa concept is not an established Spanish costume, but it is becoming an integral part of the Christmas season. The children have figured out that they stand to receive presents on Christmas Day as well as La Dia de los Reyes Magos.

I had hardly settled down from that good feeling when the invitation came through to reprise my role as Balthazar. I was delighted! Little did I know how long a day it would turn out to be. The routine involves riding in the float and waving to all and sundry. Once we reach our destination we alight and take up a position on the stage where we receive the children to whom we give gifts.

All throughout the night the adults are referring to you as “Su Majestad”, your majesty, and everyone pays respectful deference to you. That I could easily get used to! You appear in a trillion snapshots. The town in which I appeared was Rocafort with approximately 7,000 residents. It seemed to me that 6,000 were children.

This year the process of the gift giving was much better organised and the time passed quickly. I thought that was it, but no, that was just the beginning because they added an element. Certain families had asked that the Three Kings come and visit their houses as a surprise to their children. For the next two hours we were in and out of about a dozen houses leaving in our trail a string of stunned and very happy children who will never forget.

So, it seems that I have a new career based around the happiest time of year. I cannot describe my feelings throughout both the Santa Claus and the Balthazar experiences because the human vocabulary has yet to invent those words. Suffice it to say that during the events I was alert and truly happy and privileged to grow weary, but when they were over I slept better than at any other time.

So, Happy New Year to you all! May you experience good health, prosperity and happiness!

Copyright © 2018

Eugene Carmichael

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