You know when someone says they had an “epiphany”? The Epiphany is Three Kings Day! Celebrated most in Spain and Latin America, but also across Europe, “El Dia de los Reyes”, as it’s called in Spanish, marks the adoration of baby Jesus by the three kings, otherwise known as the three wise men, or Magi. Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar travelled by horse, camel, and elephant, in order to present the baby Jesus with symbolic gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrhh.
Three Kings Day Activities
1. Get a “Rosca de Reyes”
The King Cake tradition is alive in New Orleans as well as across South America, and recipes to make one are found fairly easily online. Imagine a deliciously sweet cake with cinnamon and nice sweet sauce, with a variety of fillings depending on how decadent you’re feeling.
2. Read the Bible
If you’re going to celebrate a Christian festival, why not read the gospel it’s all based on! Twelfth night (Epiphany) marks the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist. The word “Epiphany” also means “manifestation” and celebrates the revelation of God in human form as Jesus Christ. Start at Matthew 2:11, and see what happens.
3. Jump in some freezing cold water
In Prague, there’s a traditional Three Kings swim in the Vltava River. People wear speedos, some of them wear crowns, and then they jump from a barge into the water. Afterwards they drink mulled wine and eat delicious, warming Czech snacks.
Why We Love Three Kings Day
A. A reason for more gifts
Christmas isn’t the end of presents! In Europe, children look forward to receiving more gifts on Three Kings Day, lining their shoes up outside their doors so the Three Kings will know to leave their gifts inside.
B. An excuse for more eating
Three Kings Day is celebrated in South America with a delicious dinner crowned with a “Rosca de Reyes” or King Cake for dessert. The “Rosca de Reyes” is a round cake with a plastic Jesus figurine hidden inside, and the person at the party who finds the baby Jesus has to make tamales for everyone on the Day of the Candles, which comes on February 2.
C. It has fun traditions
Many families leave a box of grass or hay and some water for the Three Kings’ camels (and horses and elephants) to eat. The camels usually leave a trail of hay behind that children can follow to find their gifts.