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Day of Los Reyes – January 6, 2023

Day of Los Reyes is an annual Catholic holiday celebrated in Uruguay on January 6. The original name of the holiday is the Spanish ‘Día de Los Reyes,’ meaning ‘honor the wise men.’ The holiday commemorates the arrival of the wise men at the birth of Jesus Christ. In the Christian Bible’s accounts of the birth of Jesus, wise men from the east arrived at the site where Jesus was born. The men worshipped him and presented him with precious gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Día de Los Reyes is also observed in other Latin American countries like Puerto Rico, Peru, Paraguay, Mexico, Spain, and Argentina.

History of Day of Los Reyes

Day of Los Reyes is an annual Catholic holiday celebrated on January 6. The original name in Spanish is ‘Día de Los Reyes,’ meaning ‘honor the wise men.’ The holiday commemorates the arrival of the wise men at the birth of Jesus Christ. In the Christian Bible’s accounts of the birth of Jesus, wise men from the east arrived at the site where Jesus was born, worshipped him, and presented him with precious gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Unlike other Latin American countries, the celebration of Día de Los Reyes in Uruguay takes a different shape because of the country’s unique religious situation. In 1916, the church and the state were officially separated in Uruguay. In 1919, the government adopted a secular calendar when a liberal elite man waged a battle in parliament and succeeded in removing Christianity from the country’s calendar. Christmas is now known as Family Day, Easter is now known as Tourism Week, the Immaculate Conception feast is now known as Beach Day, and Da de Los Reyes is now known as Day of the Child or ‘Da del Nio’ in Spanish. Today, Uruguay is the most secular country in all of Latin America.

Nevertheless, certain Christian practices still hold sway on the Dia de Los Reyes. For instance, children and some adults polish their shoes and leave them outside the night before in preparation to receive the kings’ gifts. Also, sweet wine, milk, and fruit are left for the kings and camels, just as milk and cookies are left for Santa Claus in the Western world. In addition, tasty treats such as ‘roscon de Reyes’ are shared at parties. It is also on the Day of Los Reyes that young ones finally receive their Christmas presents.

Day of Los Reyes timeline

1916
The Church and State are Separated

The church and the state are officially separated in Uruguay.

1919
The Calendar is Secularized

All Christian holidays are removed and replaced in the Uruguayan calendar.

2006
A Survey Unearths the Truth

A survey shows that about 58.2% of people in Uruguay identify as Christian, while another 40.4% profess no religion.

2019
A Church Campaign is Launched

The Catholic Church in Uruguay initiates a campaign to revive interest in church attendance.

Day of Los Reyes FAQs

What does ‘Los’ Reyes mean?

In Spanish, ‘Los Reyes’ means ‘the kings.’

What did the wise men’s gifts represent?

Myrrh symbolized his demise, gold represented Jesus’ reign, and frankincense his divinity.

Where in the east were the wise men originate?

A common theory about the wise men is that they came from Persia, present-day Iran.

Day of Los Reyes Activities

  1. Polish your shoes and leave them out

    Whether or not you’re a little one, there’s no harm in having fun on this holiday. Polish your shoes, leave them out and see if anyone drops a present for you.

  2. Get together with family

    Celebrate this holiday with the ones you love. Attend a parade, gather around a fire, or share a lovely meal. Do whatever you can to spend quality time with your loved ones.

  3. Give presents

    Giving is one of the best ways to show love and care. Give gifts to your friends and family to let them know how much they mean to you.

5 Interesting Facts About Day Of Los Reyes

  1. The wreath cake brings luck

    A small figurine of Jesus is concealed inside a wreath cake, and whoever gets that slice is believed to be blessed with good luck.

  2. The day is doubly special

    January 6 also marks the 12th day of Christmas.

  3. The wise men were named

    Although the wise men in the Bible were not named, in the early church, they were named Gaspar, Melchor, and Balthazar, representing Europe, Arabia, and Africa.

  4. Día de Los Reyes is celebrated internationally

    Día de Los Reyes is also observed in Harlem, New York, and California, with huge parades.

  5. The capital of Peru

    Because Francisco Pizarro discovered it on January 6, the current name of Peru's capital, Lima, was originally ‘Ciudad de Los Reyes.’

Why We Love Day of Los Reyes

  1. It’s a time for celebration

    Día de Los Reyes is a time for celebration and relaxation. Parades light up the street, feasts are shared in family settings, while business establishments, offices, and schools close for the day.

  2. It falls within the Christmas season

    There’s something unique and mysteriously beautiful about the Christmas season. There’s more joy and laughter in the air, and Día de Los Reyes also possesses the same festive feel. The festivities and fun flow from Christmas into Día de Los Reyes.

  3. It’s full of meaning

    Día de Los Reyes is full of meaning for the Christian faithful. It’s a reminder of the birth of the Savior Jesus Christ and his sacrificial life here on earth.

Day of Los Reyes dates

YearDateDay
2023January 6Friday
2024January 6Saturday
2025January 6Monday
2026January 6Tuesday
2027January 6Wednesday

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