Talk about pressure. Children in Mexico have not one, but three old men watching their every move to determine if they’ve been naughty or nice.
Los Reyes Magos-the Magi Kings or Three Wise Men as they are more commonly known in the English speaking world- are the big wigs come Epiphany time (otherwise known as the 12th day of Christmas. You’ve heard the song).
Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar visit in the wee hours of January 6th, the date that marks the holy visit to Baby Jesus way back in the day.
Representing Europe, Melchior (Melchor) is the oldest of the three and rides a horse. Caspar (Gaspar), coming from Arabia rides in on a camel and Balthazar (Baltazar)-who is the favourite-arrives by elephant from Africa.
They are a generous sort and always come bearing gifts (if you have been a good boy or girl, that is). While it may be a toy train and not gold, frankincense, or myrrh, their arrival is still much anticipated.
(Do kids still ask for toy trains)?
In some places the kings are welcomed with massive parades, while in others, communities gather to gobble down roscas de reyes, a type of sweet bread made especially for Three King’s Day.
Most homes also have their own rosca de reyes that is eaten together with family and friends.
A tiny figure of Baby Jesus, about the size of a pinkie is hidden in the bread and he/she who finds it will be responsible for hosting a party for Dia de la Candelaria (Candlemas) on February 2nd.
How is Epiphany celebrated where you live? Have you come across any interesting traditions in your travels? Do tell!!
I really knew nothing about the tradition around the three kings until I was in Spain recently. It certainly seems a more authentic idea than Father Christmas! Interesting article, thank-you!
Thanks Katie. Yes, the Three Kings tradition seems to tie in a little more logically than Santa. Hope you had a great time in Spain!