Los Tres Reyes Magos – The Three Wise Kings

by Haley Gallardo

On January 6th, hispanic families come together to celebrate Día de Los Reyes,  Three Kings’ Day, which is a celebration commemorating the three wise men who gave gifts to Jesus Christ. The tradition has traveled over from Spain to Mexico and eventually to the states. The day is often religious, and its celebration is most common among Mexican families. Día de Los Reyes welcomes family, gathering, and appreciation. This holiday is also known in other parts of the world as Epiphany.

The three wise men’s names were Melchor, Gaspar, and Balthasar. These three men traveled by camel from Juana Díaz, Puerto Rico to Bethelhem. They followed the star of Bethlehem, otherwise known as the North star, which lingered over the Virgin Mary for days as she gave birth. The three kings decided to bring gifts for the newborn baby Jesus: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The gold signified Jesus’ status as “King of the Jews”; the frankincense indicated his identity as the son of God; and the myrrh represented his morality.

El Día de Los Reyes is a day of gathering. On this day gifts are exchanged (inspired by the gift-giving of the three men), family comes together, and traditional food is made and eaten. Kids leave shoes by the front door or under their tree so the three men can deliver gifts to them. Shoes are left out so the three kings can see a child lives in the home, which tells them to fill children’s shoes with gifts. Some kids write notes or leave food near their shoes for their favorite king and his camel.

Also on January 6th is when the Rosca de Reyes is cut and eaten. The Rosca de Reyes is a large ring of bread decorated with candied fruits and colorful stripes. There is a plastic baby hidden in the bread, which symbolizes baby Jesus in hiding; the candied fruit symbolizes his jewels. Whoever finds the plastic baby in their portion of bread must host a feast and provide tamales on February 2nd, also known as El Dia de la Candelaria

El Dia de la Candelaria celebrates the day Virgin Mary brought Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem for the first time. On El Dia de la Candelaria, lots of candles are lit at the family dinner held by the lucky finder of plastic baby Jesus. El Dia de la Candelaria concludes the Christmas season for hispanics.

Happy new year’s and Feliz dia de Reyes!

Traditional Rosca de Reyes… 

… and there’s baby Jesus!