Some of the best memories we have from our childhoods are celebrating the three wise men in Mexico. Three Kings Day, or Three Wise Men Day, is better known in Mexico as Día de Reyes.
In our country, there are two ways of referring to these wise men. The first one is Los Tres Reyes Magos, or the three wise men, and the other is Los Santos Reyes, or the holy kings.
Los Tres Reyes Magos were the three kings, or wise men, who followed the Belen Star (Bethlehem Star in English) in the sky because, according to what they believed, that star would take them to the place where the new king, baby Jesus, was born. So they followed the star until they got to Belen and found the place where Joseph, Maria and baby Jesus were so they could offer him very important presents of gold, incense and myrrh. After giving the gifts to baby Jesus, they left and were never seen again.
El Día de Reyes is celebrated January 6th and all the kids in Mexico can’t wait for this day to come. You may wonder why, but the reason is very simple: On Día de Reyes the kids receive presents, just like Christmas.
On the night of January 5th, the kids write a letter to the Reyes Magos, Melchor, Gaspar and Baltazar, to tell them how well they behaved during the year, how well they did in school and also ask them for the gifts they would like to have the next day.
After writing the letter the kids have two options: Place the letter under the Christmas tree in a shoe that belongs to them or tie the letter to a balloon filled with helium, get together with your family and/or friends and let the balloon fly so high that the Reyes Magos will receive their letter.
The morning of January 6th the kids run to the Christmas tree to see what the Reyes Magos gave them, hopefully the gifts they requested. Then, during the Día de Reyes, Mexican families get together to have a very special treat. It’s a cake with a ring shape with dried fruit on top. It is called Rosca de Reyes. The special thing about the Rosca de Reyes is that inside of the cake there are many little plastic babies, which, of course, are not eaten. Everyone cuts his/her own piece of Rosca. If you cut one that has the little baby, tradition calls for you to buy the tamales on February 2nd, which is called Día de la Candelaria. On Día de la Candelaria, Mexican families get together one more time to end the holidays and put away all the Christmas ornaments.
We can’t wait to get together with our families and have the Rosca de Reyes. Feliz año nuevo!