Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Epiphany or Driekoningen

"Drie Koningen, drie Koningen
Geef mij een nieuwe hoed
Want mijn oude die is versleten
Mijn moeder die mag het niet weten
Drie Koningen, Drie Koningen,
Geef mij een nieuwe hoed!"

This is the song children sing in some areas in the Netherlands and Belgium on the sixth of January. For me, born and raised in a non-religious family in a city near Amsterdam and moved to Brabant almost 17 years ago, it was quite a surprise to answer the doorbell and find three children dressed as kings with lanterns singing this song. Finished singing they looked at me expectantly... what to do? Luckily we (in some cities in the western part of Holland) are used to celebrate Sint Maarten where children make the rounds and ring doorbells, sing songs in return for candy. (Think trick or treat at Halloween). So I knew what was expected. Later on I heard that some people give money as well....

I think I probably have mentioned Carnival before... something I didn't grew up with either... and for years did my very best to get used to. My husband is very much involved in this circus.... being part of the organising committee. Did I say very much involved?
So last Saturday a quarter of the population of tiny town could be found dressed as kings, ringing doorbells and singing to the rest of tiny town....waving lanterns and collecting-boxes, collecting money to fund the celebration of Carnival for the children and elderly here in tiny town. (I once found 6 Kings on my doorstep accompanied by a sheep!) Waving is not only the appropriate word for the lanterns and boxes as the habit is that you'll invite the Kings in for a drink... (For your information that evening the sheep was left outside while the Kings had their jenever..) Some of the Kings are known to "wave" their way back to the community centre to deliver their treasures.

And in the aftermath....there is scrubbing the shower (committee members are painted black to resemble Balthasar) and doing laundry...
Large amounts of velvet robes in baroque colours are hanging from every line I have.
To quote Mel Brooks: It's good to be the King!

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