December 23, 2005


When Jesus Was Born

Christmas is once again upon us. Often times it is forgotten why we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It often seems that the reason of celebrating Christmas is to sell merchandise at the local stores. The local Mall with its colorful bunting and modern Christmas music, pervading throughout the shopping mall, lulls our sense of propriety and we forget just what the meaning of Christmas is. We forget why December 25th is important.

Perhaps it is important to reflect back to our Ancestors who at one time were the principal inhabitants of the American continent. Let us see what the “Birth of Christ” meant to the New Mexico Isleta Indigenous residents who left a rich historical anthology of the advent of Christianity.

Three Kings

When Jesus was born three Kings came to visit him and adore him.

One was an American the other was a Mexican, the last was an Indian. When they arrived, all three knelt and worshipped the child Jesus. Then each gave Jesus a present. The American King gave money. The Mexican King gave Jesus some swaddling clothes. And the Indian King, who was very poor, had nothing to give, so he danced before Jesus.

Then Jesus told them he would grant each a gift and asked what they wanted. The American King said he wanted to be smart and have power. And Jesus granted his wish. For that reason Americans are powerful. When he asked the Mexican King what he wanted, he wanted, he said, he wished to believe in the Saints and pray. And for that reason Mexicans believe in the Saints and pray.

Lastly Jesus asked the Indian King what he wanted, and the Indian King said he was very poor and humble and would take whatever Jesus would let him have. So Jesus gave him seed of corn and wheat and melons and other fruit. And that’s why Indians have to work always to live.

New Mexico (Isleta)

(Isleta was one of the Rio Grande Pueblos of Northern New Mexico with a population of about 2,500)

(From “Latin American Folktales” Stories from Hispanic and Indian Traditions” Edited by John Bierhorst. Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library, Pantheon Books, New York 1/2002)

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