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The Three Magi by Pura Belpreģ

“The Three Magi” was published in 1944 by the New York Public Library’s first Puerto Rican Librarian. It was originally part of an anthology entitled “The Animals’ Christmas.” This story was one of her many efforts to preserve and involve her community in the many activities at the public library.

The story began on the eve of the Three Kings’ Day, commonly referred to as Twelfth Night or Epiphany, a commemoration of the Magi who visited the baby Jesus in Bethlehem.

In the Magi’s stables, the horses and camels compete for the honor of transporting the Magi on their annual journey to deliver gifts to the good boys and girls in Spain.

These Magi, named King Gaspar, King Melchor and King Baltazar, were predecessors to the modern-day Santa Claus.

They spent many hours in their Grand Throne Room, reading millions of letters of requests sent to them. The letters pleaded for toys and promised to be better in the future.

So, the Magi packed up their freshly washed camels with food and pastries, jugs of water and an abundance of toys and set out for their long journey to Spain.

They traveled across the desert as night fell but they were bewildered when the star that led them on every year didn’t seem to shine for them. Eventually, the star appeared and they followed it for hours. When the sun finally rose to announce a new day, they found themselves at their palace. They realized they traveled all night in a complete circle.

The Magi were perplexed.

A little black beetle came out from behind a camel’s ear to inform them they were deceived.

The Magi were very upset and discussed their limited options.

The beetle politely interrupted them to introduce them to a little gray mouse who explained they were bamboozled by the horses that were jealous of the camels. The horses conspired with the fireflies to pretend they were the famous star.

The mouse was appalled by the deception and went to Father Time’s house and set his clock back twenty-four hours to assist the Magi in completing their task.

This story was fun. I liked that the animals continued to take part in the annual celebration. I also found it refreshing to see that Christmas was not stuck on December 25 but remained in action, even as late as January 6.

The Christmas season is not just for the day but requires a collection of days to enjoy its full effect. It allows its participants to journey into it celebration of days, instead of preparing long and laboriously for just one day.

Pura Belpreģ was a wonderful storyteller in her day and has an award named after her to benefit writers of the Latino community. She was also a notable puppeteer.

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