Exploring Colonial Mexico©
January 6th is celebrated throughout Mexico as El Día de Los Reyes, the festival of the Three Kings or Three Wise Men, which marks Epiphany and the traditional climax to the Christmas season.
Images of the Three Kings Melchor, Gaspar and Baltazar were on display in churches throughout Yucatán on our recent visit. But Tizimín, in northern Yucatán, is especially famous for its festival of Los Santos Reyes.
We attended this colorful fiesta, which was enjoyable despite a tropical downpour in the midst of the festivities. People flocked to the numerous market stalls selling food, trinkets and religious mementoes, took rides on the rustic funfair and watched Aztec dancing in the plaza. The faithful formed long lines to enter the vast church, where they ritually brushed the religious images with fresh green branches sold outside.
Although there was a Franciscan mission at Tizimín as far back as the late 1500s, distinguished by its open chapel with a great thatched nave (demolished) and stone campanario (which still soars above the convento beside the church), the austere, towerless church of Los Santos Reyes,(illustrated above) in which the images of the Three Kings rest, was built in the mid-1700s by the secular clergy.
A Blast from the Past !
In addition to the traditional statues of the Three Kings, we noticed other popular images emblazoned on the rustic funfair rides at Tizimín: facing cameos of Aztec Eagle and Jaguar warriors (r), and a medallion of the two-headed Hapsburg eagle (l) a device popular throughout Mexico in early colonial times, and even today
Text and illustrations ©1998 by Richard D. Perry
For more on the fascinating colonial buildings and folk traditions of Yucatán consult our guidebook, Maya Missions
see also Los Reyes de Cajititlan
see our other Yucatan Nativity page