Feliz Dia de Reyes or Feast of the Three Kings!
On January 6, most of the Hispanic world celebrates El Dia De Reyes, the Epiphany. We remember the day when the three wise men or Magi followed the star to Bethlehem to see the baby Jesus, bearing their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. This is Epiphany on the church calendar, the 12th day after Christmas, also remembering when the Magi arrived bearing gifts for baby Jesus.
January 6th really marks the end of the Christmas season in Mexico. People start to head back to school and work after having spent time with family and friends during the past few weeks. Mexican Christmas tradition generally calls for gifts to be exchanged on Dia de Reyes instead of on Christmas day, but it’s my impression that you see gifts being exchanged on Christmas day more and more often, with the traditions of Santa and Christmas trees becoming more popular.
Growing up, my family always celebrated three kings day. The three kings would pass by our home on their way back from visiting baby Jesus in Bethlehem and, if we had been good, leave our shoes that had been left by the front door filled with candy and perhaps small treats. My siblings and I ALWAYS made sure to leave our biggest shoes out by the door, for more treat space!
I grew up in a predominately Mexican community on the south side of Chicago, so I knew many people who celebrated this day. Yes, it was not as exciting as Christmas and Santa bringing us the “big” gifts, but I did look forward to waking up on January 6th and seeing what had been left behind in my shoe by the Magi! As my siblings and I grew up, the tradition of celebrating this day became less important to me, maybe because I stopped believing in the Magi and I focused more on the festivities around Christmas. However, now that I have small children of my own I want to make sure that my they celebrate this Feast. They are likely not to learn too much about it from their school or friends, so it’s up to me. My husband is not Latino, but he appreciates our family celebrating my cultural traditions and is on board to celebrate as a family.
If you celebrate today, I hope that it’s a great day, bringing back some wonderful childhood memories. These sites have good explanations on the traditions and history around today’s Dia de Reyes.