Three King's Day
On the twelfth day of Christmas, January 6, we celebrate Three Kings Day! Celebrated most in Spain and Latin America, but also across Europe, “El Dia de los Reyes”, as it’s called in Spanish, marks the adoration of baby Jesus by the three wise men.
History of Three King's Day
In Mexico and many other Latin American countries, Santa Clause isn’t as popular as he is in the United States. Rather, it is the three wise men who are the bearers of gifts and leave presents in or near the shoes of small children. The holiday is also known by the name Epiphany and dates back to the 4th century. A grand feast would be held on this day to honor the occasion of Jesus’ baptism and to pay homage to the three wise men.
Many believe mysterious events preceded Jesus’ birth with perhaps the most notable being the appearance of the star in Bethlehem. This new star appeared in the evening sky just prior to the arrival of Jesus. Three wise men, or Magi as they were known, whose names were Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, traveled a far distance to pay homage to Christ. They brought with them fine gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Three Kings Day, or El Dia de Reyes, remains an important holiday for Latin America. In addition to gift-giving, there is also a culinary treat that is specific to the holiday. Known as Rosca de Reyes (King’s Cake), this holiday dessert is a symbolic pastry. Shaped in a circle to signify a king’s crown, this sweet bread holds a special surprise. Inside is a small plastic figurine representing the baby Jesus. Whoever finds this token is obligated to host an upcoming party for the occasion Dia de la Candelaria (Candlemas Day) which occurs each year on February 2.
In Puerto Rico, children fill a box with freshly cut grass to place under their beds. A wish list is placed on top for the Three Wise Men to fulfill.