Three Kings Day: When the Three Wise Men upend Santa

Tuesday, January 6, marks the celebration of the Epiphany on the religious calendar, and it’s also the real Christmas in Mexico and some Latin American countries. There, Santa Claus can’t hold a candle to the Wise Men — Balthazar, Melchior and Caspar – who visited the baby Jesus bearing gifts. Thus it’s on Three Kings Day that most Mexicans and many others in Latin nations exchange gift, on a tradition day that completes the 12 days of Christmas. In the U.S., with its large Latino immigrant population and influence, Three Kings Day is celebrated in addition to Christmas, often with a feast that includes a family tradition of serving La Rosca de Reyes, Three Kings Cake. SEE ALSO: Extend the holidays by heading to Puerto Rico “This is a s important tradition to Latin Americans in general, but especially Mexicans,” says San Diego grocer Ignacio Hernandez. “I’ve been eating Rosca de Reyes all my life. “It has a very distinct flavor. It doesn’t taste like a fruit cake — more like a soft sponge cake, soft and delicious.” If you’re lucky enough to find a figure of the baby Jesus baked in the cake, tradition holds that you will have good fortune in the coming year. Other customs that come into popularity in parts of the U.S.include children gathering grass and placing it under their beds to be eaten by the camels of the Three Kings, who leave gifts in the middle of the night to children who have been good.   “Celebrating El Dia de los Reyes Magos,” says Jorge Bustamante of Pacoima, Calif., “is an important time in my community. “For us, it’s celebrating the wonder of Christmas twice.” Bakeries or panaderias in traditional Hispanic neighborhoods in the U.S. have long been in the business of baking these special cakes, with demand so great that you usually have to order in advance. “It’s a big deal,” says Luis Bracamontes, a baker at Panchitas bakery in San Diego. “On Jan. 6, we’ll sell 400, 500 cakes. It’s a good day.” Shaped in the round to signify a king’s crown, La Rosca de Reyes cake tradition also calls on whoever finds the small plastic figurine representing the baby Jesus to host a party for the occasion of Dia de la Candelaria (Candlemas Day), which occurs each year on Feb. 2. SEE ALSO: Thalia spreads ‘Dia de Reyes’ joy on social media “It’s the presentation,” says Jose Sanchez, a baker at Los Jarrones bakery in El Paso. “If they don’t look pretty, they don’t sell.” According to tradition, the reason Jesus is hidden inside the cake is to symbolize how the baby savior’s birth location needed to kept secret, to spare his life King Herod’s edict to murder all male infants recently born in Bethlehem. The tradition among many Mexican families is that on the night of Jan. 5, parents tell their young children that the Three Kings will soon arrive, bearing gifts as they once did to the baby Jesus. If the children already received Christmas presents from Santa, these presents from the Three Kings may be toys or clothes of less value. “The family looks forward to this day,” says Sally Garcia of Las Cruces, N.M., “just to see who’s going to get the baby in their piece of cake so they can throw the rest of the family a party.”The post Three Kings Day: When the Three Wise Men upend Santa appeared first on Voxxi.

Three Kings Day parade in New York City. (flickr.com/ennuipoet)

Tuesday, January 6, marks the celebration of the Epiphany on the religious calendar, and it’s also the real Christmas in Mexico and some Latin American countries.

There, Santa Claus can’t hold a candle to the Wise Men — Balthazar, Melchior and Caspar – who visited the baby Jesus bearing gifts.

Thus it’s on Three Kings Day that most Mexicans and many others in Latin nations exchange gift, on a tradition day that completes the 12 days of Christmas.

In the U.S., with its large Latino immigrant population and influence, Three Kings Day is celebrated in addition to Christmas, often with a feast that includes a family tradition of serving La Rosca de Reyes, Three Kings Cake.

SEE ALSO: Extend the holidays by heading to Puerto Rico

“This is a s important tradition to Latin Americans in general, but especially Mexicans,” says San Diego grocer Ignacio Hernandez. “I’ve been eating Rosca de Reyes all my life.

“It has a very distinct flavor. It doesn’t taste like a fruit cake — more like a soft sponge cake, soft and delicious.”

If you’re lucky enough to find a figure of the baby Jesus baked in the cake, tradition holds that you will have good fortune in the coming year.

Other customs that come into popularity in parts of the U.S.include children gathering grass and placing it under their beds to be eaten by the camels of the Three Kings, who leave gifts in the middle of the night to children who have been good.

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“Celebrating El Dia de los Reyes Magos,” says Jorge Bustamante of Pacoima, Calif., “is an important time in my community.

“For us, it’s celebrating the wonder of Christmas twice.”

Bakeries or panaderias in traditional Hispanic neighborhoods in the U.S. have long been in the business of baking these special cakes, with demand so great that you usually have to order in advance.

“It’s a big deal,” says Luis Bracamontes, a baker at Panchitas bakery in San Diego. “On Jan. 6, we’ll sell 400, 500 cakes. It’s a good day.”

Shaped in the round to signify a king’s crown, La Rosca de Reyes cake tradition also calls on whoever finds the small plastic figurine representing the baby Jesus to host a party for the occasion of Dia de la Candelaria (Candlemas Day), which occurs each year on Feb. 2.

SEE ALSO: Thalia spreads ‘Dia de Reyes’ joy on social media

“It’s the presentation,” says Jose Sanchez, a baker at Los Jarrones bakery in El Paso. “If they don’t look pretty, they don’t sell.”

According to tradition, the reason Jesus is hidden inside the cake is to symbolize how the baby savior’s birth location needed to kept secret, to spare his life King Herod’s edict to murder all male infants recently born in Bethlehem.

The tradition among many Mexican families is that on the night of Jan. 5, parents tell their young children that the Three Kings will soon arrive, bearing gifts as they once did to the baby Jesus.

If the children already received Christmas presents from Santa, these presents from the Three Kings may be toys or clothes of less value.

“The family looks forward to this day,” says Sally Garcia of Las Cruces, N.M., “just to see who’s going to get the baby in their piece of cake so they can throw the rest of the family a party.”

The post Three Kings Day: When the Three Wise Men upend Santa appeared first on Voxxi.