Three Kings Day in the City of Kings

Welcome to the Peru Study-Service Term blog for Spring 2014! Goshen College students are scheduled to arrive late Wednesday (Jan. 8), which is when the spring program officially will begin. We (co-leaders Richard R. Aguirre and Judy Weaver) have been preparing the study-service program since even before our last group of students departed Lima on Dec. 2. So we can hardly wait for the next group of students to arrive.

Goshen College was closed today, Jan. 6, 2014, because of the snow emergency declared in Elkhart County. However, in Lima, Peru, temperatures were in the 70s and people were walking around in shorts and T-shirts.

In much of the Christian world Epiphany was celebrated today, but Jan. 6 in most of Latin America it is known as “El Día de los Reyes” (The Day of Kings), commemorating the arrival of the Three Wise Men to confirm Jesus as Son of God.

Throughout Peru, Jan. 6 also is known as La Bajada de Los Reyes, and gatherings are held in honor of the visit of the wise men. Today also was the day many people began to take down nativity scenes and put them away until next Christmas. This day also had special significance in Lima, which was named “Ciudad de los Reyes” (City of the Kings)” by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro because Jan. 6 coincided with the day he decided it should be the location of capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru.

Throughout the Christmas season, we saw many naciemientos (nativity scenes) around Peru. Nacimientos were everywhere, including in bus stations, government buildings, markets and parks. And they came in many sizes, styles and colors. These photos show some of the nacimientos we saw in December.