There are signs of growing up in a Puerto Rican household. Not to stereotype–but my household, just like many other Puerto Ricans, was filled with Goya, rice and beans, Olga Tañón, loud conversations, telenovelas, strict parents, cousins, and one of my personal favorites–Three Kings Day.
Today, I want to talk about the importance of Three Kings Day and how I plan to pass down the same traditions to my two kiddos, Lilli & Jonah. I would also like to share a little part of my culture with those who may not be familiar with the holiday or story.
Traditionally, Three Kings Day celebrates the biblical adoration of baby Jesus. Christians around the world celebrate Christmas as the birthday of Jesus Christ from His virgin mother Mary. On the day of His birth, according to the gospels of Matthew and Luke, Jesus was born in Bethlehem in a manger–as there was no place in an inn. The book of Matthew is the only one of the gospels that mention the Magi “came from the east” to worship the King of the Jews. Although the gospels never mention how many there were, Christian denominations around the world assume the number three– as there were three gifts brought to baby Jesus: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Popular depictions of the story of Jesus’ birth put the wise men at his birth, however, traditional celebrations put their visit 12 days after his birth. So, Three Kings Day is the commemoration of the arrival of the Magi–men who accepted Jesus as the incarnate.
There are many different variations of how people across the world celebrate Three Kings Day. Traditions include family gatherings, parades and eating the Roscón (or Rosca) de Reyes, a round cake with dried fruit, powdered sugar and a figurine hidden inside. The Rosca de Reyes has an oval shape to symbolize a crown and has a small doll inside, which represents baby Jesus. The doll figure symbolizes the hiding of the infant Jesus from King Herod’s troops.
In my family, the tradition is for kids to leave behind some water and hay (grass) for the camels of theThree Kings to eat. This year, Lilli thought of the idea to write a letter for the Kings. In the letter, Lilli and Jonah wanted to write a sweet message thanking them for loving and accepting baby Jesus. Once the letter is completed, we will place it in a wooden box filled with the grass and water for the camels. The box is then placed under their bed on January 5th and when the kids wake up on January 6th, they will find a note and something small (a gift from the Magi) left behind for them to enjoy.
I hope some of you will join me in the fun of celebrating Three Kings Day!
Until Next Time,