When I moved to Spain in 1995, I was very surprised to see that my Spanish friends, who as most Spaniards nowadays are former Catholics, are all great promoters of the Epiphany. As a result while a minority of Spanish kids today go to church and hear about God, almost all of them are told about the existence of the Magi who bring them gifts on January 6th. For Spanish kids the Epiphany is more important than Christmas. When I asked a Spanish friend called Jesus (Jesus is still a very common name in non religious Spain, another paradox) why he told his kids about the Magi and not about God he said very plainly “because I don´t believe in God”. The real identity of the Magi, namely the parents, is generally revealed to kids only in Grammar school. So because both Atheists and Catholics teach their kids about the Magi but only Catholics about God more kids believe in the Magi than in God.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

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cova on January 7, 2009  · 

Yes, the magi for us are the equivalent to St.Claus, so we do not care if they are from a religious origin , for us they are the three kings that bring joy and gifts to the kids, although we do not believe in god we still want to dream!
It is a beutiful party with parades and I hope we will never loose this tradition.

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Francisco on January 7, 2009  · 

It makes sense since every year kids have a prove that the Magi exist (the gifts), whereas there is still no real clue about God existence…

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Paul RODTS on January 7, 2009  · 

La Befana is a character in Italian folklore, similar to Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus and she comes on January the 6th….when Italian kids get their presents from this friendly witch.

La befana vien di notte
con le scarpe tutte rotte
col cappello alla romana:
Viva viva la Befana!

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