Today is the end of the christmas holiday season for most people in Latin America and Spain because the Three Kings Day (“Día de Reyes”) is still coming on the 12th day of Christmas.
For many children excitement is high in anticipation for the Three Kings to bring the presents Santa Claus brought to others. The holiday marks the arrival of the three Wise Men to adore baby Jesus, whom, according to the Gospel of Matthew, found the divine child by following a star across the desert for 12 days to Bethlehem. Melchor, Gazpar and Balthazar, traveled in a horse, an elephant and a camel, bearing gifts for the newborn King.
Celebrations vary from place to place; even from family to family but here are some beautiful traditions you might even consider adopting if you haven’t already:
1. The Presents: Just like the offerings the Three Kings brought to baby Jesus, they bring gifts to many children. Some families have their children leave a shoe by the Christmas tree or outside their door, so the three wise men know to leave their toys there.
2. Rosca de Reyes: This bread (or edible wreath, as some call it) has had a number of symbolisms assigned to it, but aside from that, the tradition is to gather as a family to enjoy the treat, take turns slicing the bread, and seeing who gets the baby Jesus hiding inside! Get the recipe here.
3. The Candelaria: Although the feast comes until February 2, it’s directly related to Three Kings Day since the person who gets the “little baby Jesus” from the Rosca, has to prepare tamales for everyone. The date biblically celebrates the day of our Lady of the Candelaria.
4. Community Parades: Some celebrate by parading dressed as the Three Kings men, carrying gifts and offerings and allowing children to take a photo with the three wise men. Even Disneyland started a three-day celebration in 2012, which, according to reports was a big success and has now become a yearly event.
5. Epiphany Festival: Thousands gather to enjoy the holiday in downtown Mexico City, with photo stands, hot chocolate and some enormous Roscas de Reyes. In past years, there’s been mile long roscas made with up to 4.9 tonnes of flour, 2.8 tonnes of butter, one tonne of sugar and marmalade, hundreds of kilos of candied fruits and more than 43,000 eggs, to give out hundreds of thousands of pieces.
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