Christmas has come and gone and the New Year has rolled in. For many, the holidays have passed. For many Christians in Spain and in parts of Latin America, still look forward to another holiday in January. This holiday is known as “El Día de los Reyes”, or Three Kings Day in English. Celebrated on January 6, this is another day of gift giving. It is also sometimes referred to as the “twelfth night” because it falls twelve days after Christmas. This day commemorates the biblical story of the adoration of baby Jesus by the three kings, also referred to as the three wise men. They traveled from far lands to present baby Jesus with three symbolic gifts.
“King’s bread, a ring-shaped cake decorated with fruits symbolizing the precious gems that adorned the royal trio’s clothing.”
This day is celebrated in many ways. In Mexico, thousands get together every year to taste the mile long “Rosca de Reyes” or King’s bread, a ring-shaped cake decorated with fruits symbolizing the precious gems that adorned the royal trio’s clothing. Days preceding the holiday, men dress up as the wise men to take photos with children in town squares, malls, and parks. On January 5th, Mexican children write letters to the wise men asking for a toy they would like to receive. Children also leave their shoes out with a bit of hay in them to feed the animals of the three kings. They are typically shown with a camel or elephant. The morning after, the children wake up with gifts in their shoes instead of the hay! Some follow a tradition of hiding a baby Jesus figurine within the King’s bread. The person whose slice contains the figurine is expected to prepare tamales for everyone on “El Día de la Candelaria” or Day of the Little Candles on February 2.
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