Guest Author - Rebecca M. Cuevas De Caissie
The Hispanic Tradition of the Three Kings Day
The Hispanic Tradition of celebrating the Three King’s Day or El Dia De Los Tres Magos actually holds its roots in Catholic Traditions. In the Catholic Tradition, the 6th of January is set aside to celebrate the coming of the three magi to offer gifts to the newly born king. According to the bible, the three kings set off following a star that foretold of the birth of the king of the world.
In ancient times there were many who studied the stars to tell of future events. They were known as astrologers and were highly regarded for their skills. When the stars foretold of the birth of a great king there was a set of kings who set off to offer gifts to the king. These Kings came to King Herod and told him that they were going to honor the newly born king. As the record goes, the King Herod was very jealous and wished to destroy the Jesus. King Herod told the Magi to go and find the baby Jesus and to return to him and let him know where he might also go and pay tribute to the King.
The Magi continued on there journey. After they departed, King Herod plotted to find out where the baby Jesus was so he might kill him.
When the magi came to where the child was, no age is stated; they laid before him Frankincense, myrrh and gold. When they had finished paying tribute to the newly born king, they departed. On their return journey and angel appeared to them and told them of King Herod’s plot to kill Jesus and advised them to not go and see him again. Taking the advice of the angel, the magi turned away from Bethlehem and returned home. When King Herod found out, he was very mad and ordered all children under the age of two be put to death to ensure the death of Jesus there by protecting his reign. An angel then appeared to Joseph and Mary and told them to depart so that Jesus would be spared.
On January 5th, children prepare a box as if for the baby Jesus to lie in. Many of them line it with hay but you can surely use whatever you have, old rags or dry grass. The children then place the boxes under their beds. On January 6th, in the morning they wake up to find three presents in the box for them, or sometimes at the foot of the bed symbolic of the three gifts that were given to the baby Jesus by the Magi.
This Holiday is known to many other Catholics as the Epiphany and is celebrated with a special mass at church. In following with the faith of the Catholic Church, Hispanic Catholics go to mass and celebrate that day with a dinner prepared in celebration. In some Hispanic traditions, they also have that day a King Cake, which is a cake in which is hidden a plastic baby. The lucky one to get the baby Jesus is named the God Parent of the Statue from the Nativity until the following year. They are to prepare and outfit for the baby and to present the statue for baptism at the Catholic Church on the day of Los Calendarios. This is the last day of Christmas and the day in which all decorations are put away until the following Christmas season.
What is so very nice about celebrating the Christmas season is that you stay focused on what the season is really about. Celebrating the birth of Jesus as well as maintaining the purity that comes with the avoidance of commercialization. Another wonderful thing about celebrating traditionally according to Hispanic manner is that you have many opportunities to teach your children about the history and traditions of your faith. The fun is surely there from all the parties and family as well as all the church functions, but you avoid a great deal of the commercialization of the holidays. In turn, you have a longer season of celebrating with fewer costs, more family bonding and more teaching of the religious faith to your children. All those after Christmas sales sure do make for a Merrier Three Kings day for the kids and the parents as well since after all, you do not have to max out your cash supply or credit cards to pay for a one-day event. Instead, you have a fun filled season opposed to a day, covering several days and several parties, with a limit on gifts given only to children on El Dia De Los tres Mago.