By: Tiffany Baker, CIF Campaign Project Manager
The holiday season may be over, but actually, this Friday there will be yet another opportunity to continue gift giving onto 2017. Every year on January 6th, many Christians around the globe celebrate Día de los Reyes or Three Kings Day. This holiday commemorates the day that the Three Wise Men followed the star to Bethlehem with gift of frankincense, gold and Myrrh for the baby Jesus. It also marks the end to the 12 days of Christmas with lively celebrations. This day has many names including Epiphany and twelfth Night. While this holiday is celebrated around the world, celebrations take on a different form depending on where you are on the globe.
In the United States, Día de los Reyes is celebrated in many Hispanic communities. In New York City, El Museo del Barrio will be hosting its 40th annual Three Kings Day Parade. The parade takes place in Harlem, NY beginning on 106th ST and Lexington Ave. The day will be filled with music and dancing, including live camels and colorful puppets. Admission is free but registration is strong encouraged.
If you are in California during the week, you should check out Disney Land. Since a successful test run in 2012, Disney land has continued to celebrate Three Kings day through celebrations that highlight Latin American traditions from Mexico and other Central American Countries. The theme park describes a festive occasion that the whole family will enjoy!
In New Orleans, Three Kings Day takes on a different appearance. This day is the beginning of the Carnival season. In New Orleans, it is known as the twelfth night and its celebration can be traced back to the founding of the colony. While the city celebrates this holiday like the rest of the world, it also exhibits its French heritage by throwing a parade in the memory of Joan of Arc. Despite this, many of the traditions seen in other countries can be found in New Orleans, including the Rosca de Reyes, or Kings cake.
In conjunction with these celebrations around the United States, there are also other traditions that are observed in many Latin American Households. Here they are listed below
This Pastry known as Rosca de Reyes is traditionally eaten during this period. It is round to symbolize the King’s Crowns. There is also a “baby Jesus” Figurine or other small trinkets that is baked inside of these cakes. When the cake is sliced, the person who finds the figured is crowned “King or Queen of the Celebration.
Children also leave their shoes outside their doors in hopes that the three kings will leave gifts inside them, along with leaving bigger gifts placed next to their shoes. Some families even leave hay and water outside for the camels of the three kings to eat. Others leave boxes of hay under children’s bed for the same purpose. Lastly, this day is meant to be spent with family. Many families celebrate with dinners and family gatherings.
While this holiday is celebrated around the world by many different countries, it is also important to many Latin American countries. Many our farmworkers are from these countries and may celebrate these traditions every year. While they are while they are hugely underrepresented in our society, it is very important that we have celebrations that highlight many of these traditions here. When we explore other cultures, we can see that we are all the same and it brings us together. Who knows, it could even lead to you starting so Three King’s Day Traditions of your own!
Happy Día de los Reyes!