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El Dia de los Tres Reyes - Three Kings Day

The twelve days of Christmas begin on Christmas Day, December 25th and end on the Twelfth Night, January 5th . On January 6th, traditionally the last day of the Christmas season, is when we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany or Three Kings Day. (Technically the last day of the season is February 2 and you thought people were just being lazy about taking down their Christmas lights!)

In Mexico, Spain and other Latin countries it is when children receive the majority of their gifts from the Three Kings rather than from Santa Claus at Christmas. Before going to bed the children place their old shoes or a box filled with grass or hay under their bed for the camels with a wish list on top for the Three Kings. In the morning the shoes or box is filled with toys & gifts from the Three Kings.

According to legend based on scripture (Matthew 2:1-12) this day commemorates the Three Wise Men, Melchior, Gaspar and Baltazar, who followed the star to Bethlehem, bringing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They travel to Bethlehem, and along the way encountered King Herod, whom they tell of the birth of the new King. Herod orders them to find the baby and return to tell him where the Messiah could be found so that he may pay homage. After being warned by God in a dream that they should not return to Herod because he planned on killing the baby, they returned to their own countries another way.

The scripture does mention the three gifts but does not say how many came to visit. It was always assumed that if there were three gifts, then there were probably three people. Scholars estimate the number to be 2-12, possibly more. Are you wondering why they make such a big deal out of when the Kings came and not when the shepherds or others visited? It's because the "Kings" (Wise Men or Magi) who brought gifts to the infant Jesus were the first Gentiles (non-Jews) to acknowledge Jesus as "King" and in doing so, the first to reveal that Jesus came for all people, from all nations and races.  Matthew 2:1


Rosca de Reyes - Three Kings Bread

The Rosca de Reyes is a ring-shaped bread with a small doll baked inside which represents the baby Jesus. The figure symbolizes the hiding of the infant from King Herod's troops. According to tradition whoever finds the figure in their slice of sweet bread must give a party on February 2nd, Candlemas Day or Dia de la Candelaria, offering tamales and atole (a hot, sweet drink thickened with corn flour)or Mexican hot chocolate to their guests. Candlemas is the day that Mary presented the infant Jesus to the temple and is traditionally the day that candles are blessed in the Catholic Church.

It is best to pre-order a Rosca de Reyes at a Mexican bakery or panaderia. Since most of these places do not speak English you can print this page out and hand them the picture. When ordering at other bakeries ask for a King's Cake, Louisiana-style which is basically the same thing.


Articles courtesy of CasaQ - A Culture. A Lifestyle.
CasaQ is dedicated to presenting unique products that reflect our culture and heritage blending modern with traditional, and old with new. CasaQ is dedicated to providing opportunities to our consultants and customers to enrich their family values and lifestyles. CasaQ celebrates life! 408 280-1065, info@casaq.com

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