Araw ng Tatlong Hari

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For Centuries, the magical bearers of gifts for Filipino children were the Three Kings, not Santa Claus. Shoes were brightly polished and left on the window sills toferther with the cleanest socks, fresh from the laundry. The children knew that the Three Kings, on their way to Bethlehem, would pass by theri homes to fill their shoes and socks with gifts. Some would thoughtfully leave some straw or dry grass for the camels; if these were gone in the morning, surely the cames must have been terribly hungry. 

The Feast of the Three Kings (Araw ng Tatlong Hari) is celebrated on the First Sunday of January. It is also known as the Pasko ng Matatanda (Feast of the Elderly), the day specially honors senior citizens. The feast is also called "The Epiphany" which commemorates the manifestation of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi.

They were called Melchor, meaning "king of light", Gaspar, "the white one", and Balthazar, "the lord of treasure". In the Middle Ages, Gaspar was depicted young, Mechor as middle-aged, and Balhtazar as ancient. They came bearing gifts or gold, frankincense and myrrh.

In the city of Manila, it has been a tradition for dacades for the prestigious club Casino Espaņol to organiza\e a Three Kings' parade on January 6 or the first Sunday of January. Dressed in royal robes, the Three Kings ride on stately horses as there are no camels in the Philippines. They parade down the block, and end at the clubhouse where children of the Spanish community await them to receive more Christmas gifts. There are gifts prepared for the poor children and orphans, too.

In the town of Gapan in Marinduque, a religious folk play is presented in which the Three Kings follow a star and meet Herod who later "runs amok" by chopping off the heads of infants, as well as demolishing his own palace. The Kings eventually find the holy manger with the Infant Jesus.

This feast of the Three Kings marks the official end of the litrurgical Christmas of the Philippines.   

Source: Pasko by Alejandro and Chorengel

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