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
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
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
baked inside which represents the baby Jesus. The figure
symbolizes the hiding of the infant from King Herod's troops.
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.
courtesy of CasaQ - A Culture. A Lifestyle.
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