Juana Diaz – With a dazzling robe and a small crown on his head, Naishla Torres dressed his son Nereil Isaiah1 and a half years old, like a king to celebrate this Saturday the 140 years of tradition in the long-awaited caravan of the Three Wise Men by Juana Diazin the so-called Bethlehem of Puerto Rico.
“It is the tradition of my people and the one that should never die, because it is what represents all of us Juanadians. It is an enjoyment for everyone. It is the most beautiful thing there is to give to children, so that tradition, joy and prosperity continue to be promoted.”Torres shared from the House Museum of the Santos Reyes.
This is the second time that she has carried her little one in her arms to celebrate the most important event in her town. She highlighted that people come from all over the archipelago, as well as from other countries, to admire the art, culture and tradition of the town.
The celebration of the Three Wise Men Festival Juana Diazorganized by the Juanadino Council for Three Kings Celebrations, began with a caravan, in which dozens of families paraded along with children dressed as shepherds and little kings, animals, musicians and other biblical characters.
Thousands surrounded the streets of the Roman Baldorioty de Castro public square, standing or in their beach chairs, to enjoy the joy of sharing with family and admiring the tradition in Juana Diaz.
“Today we are all children“, shouted a shepherd from the caravan before the Three Wise Men arrived to greet the crowd, who were eagerly waiting to see them.
Three Wise Men live the tradition
Riding on shiny horses, the emblematic Gaspar, Melchior and Baltasar at the end of the plaza to begin the final parade en route to the stage in front of the San Ramon Nonato Parish. Since 1884, the Three Wise Men of Juana Diaz have brought hope to their people.
“This is the main holiday of Christmas. Epiphany is the true celebration of Christmas. Not only in Puerto Rico, but in the world. At Juana Diaz, we celebrate 140 years of tradition. Every year, we live this tradition more because it is what defines us as a people. It is cultural, but also religious“Melchor highlighted before starting the long-awaited caravan.
This 2024, they also celebrated the 40th anniversary of the National Caravan of the Three Wise Men and the 20th anniversary of the House Museum of the Holy Kings.
Baltasar, meanwhile, shared a message full of hope for the people of Puerto Rico. “The first thing has to be a message of peace, unity and fraternity. Even in diversity, being able to unite as the Three Wise Men did in a single purpose, following the light of the star, following those values that can make us better,” he highlighted.
Likewise, Melchor called on the country’s politicians, concentrating his speech on a request for respect in the electoral year that has just begun.
“We want them to be an example for the people, to teach the people what it means to have a high-level dialogue, what it means to work together for a country. This year is going to be a difficult one… primaries, elections, so this is the year that politicians have to teach us, who look out for us and who work for the people“he exhorted.
The Three Wise Men joined a group of about 90 people on the stage for the start of the mass, presided over by the bishop of Ponce, Ruben Gonzalez Medina.
Gaspar highlighted that the day would be a familiar one for all those who visit them and keep the Puerto Rican tradition alive, to the sound of artistic groups such as Grupo Abayarde, Grupo Sazon Criollo, Grupo Esencia and the pico a pico de trovadores with Marcos Collazo.
“We are extremely happy. For all Juanadinos, this is the most important event of the year”he said, for his part, John Molinadirector of the caravan and who has been participating in the planning of the Three Kings Festival for 28 years.
As a curious fact, he mentioned that planning the event takes them around 12 months due to all the details they take into account for the cultural event, which has an economic impact at the island level. This year, the Three Wise Men visited 12 towns between January 2 and 5. “There are already requests for 2025”he pointed out excitedly.