Dia de los Reyes is fast approaching, and I have to say it is probably one of my favorite Latin American holiday to celebrate. To be honest, I was no familiar with this holiday at all before I met my husband, but it has become a joy to celebrate in our Mexican-American Family. And since I will be sharing some Dia de los Reyes activities over the next couple weeks, I thought I’d share a little bit about the holiday, and how to celebrate.
What is Dia de los Reyes?
Dia de los Reyes, also known as Three Kings Day or Epiphany is January 6th. It is when we celebrate the Kings from the east arriving to Bethlehem to see baby Jesus. Why not on Christmas? Well the Kings didn’t actually arrive on Christmas. In fact, many scholars believe Jesus was already a toddler by the time the kings arrived.
How We Celebrate
I can’t speak for all families, only my family, as I am fairly new to this tradition as well. However, I can share what I’ve seen, experienced, and how we celebrate in our home.
Traditionally the kings bring gifts to the children to find on the morning of January 6th. This can be celebrated big like Santa coming in the U.S., or the kings may just bring small gifts. They may even put gifts in shoes. It kind of depends on the family and the region. Some children also may leave straw in their shoes for the kings’ horse, elephant, and camel to munch on.
In our family, we have generally given our little ones slippers and some snacks. I am from the U.S. and grew up with the Santa tradition. And my husband is from Northern Mexico where Santa is generally celebrated as well. We both grew up with Santa bringing us presents on Christmas day. However, having a small gift for our girls is a fun way to keep the tradition of Dia de los Reyes alive in our home.
Rosca del Reyes
On Dia de los Reyes, many families get together to share a Rosca de los Reyes. It’s a large round sweet bread decorated with candied fruit. Inside a small doll is hidden to represent baby Jesus. Depending on how big the rosca is, there may be multiple baby Jesus dolls for more fun. Everyone takes a piece of the rosca, and who ever has baby Jesus in their piece is the winner. Depending on the region, they may also have to bring tamales to Dia de la Candelaria (February 2nd), when Jesus was presented in the temple.
We have a panadaria in our city that makes the best roscas. Every year the line to buy a rosca is out the door and down the street, so we do our best to snag a rosca from them. However, if you aren’t lucky enough to live in a town with a pananderia, this seems like a good recipe: Rosca de Reyes.