Didn’t get your fill of celebrations throughout December? Well, Three Kings Day might be right up your alley. Also known as the Epiphany or Theophany, this feast commemorates the day the Three Wise Men discovered Christ.
Not as widely celebrated in America, it’s still an important religious festival for many, so let’s take a look at some of the things you might not know about this unique holiday.
1. The Holiday Gets Celebrated On January 6th, aka the Twelfth Day Of Christmas
For those of you that have always wondered what that annoyingly repetitive song was going on about, you now have your answer.
Traditionally falling on January 6 (12 days after December 25), it’s the last day of Christmas festivities and the perfect opportunity for your true love to send you 12 drummers drumming.
As stated above, the feast celebrates the arrival of the Three Wise Men at the manger in Bethlehem. But they didn’t get there right on time, as they needed a couple of weeks to travel by camel. When they did, though, they confirmed that the child was indeed Christ and then gave him some baby shower presents – gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
2. Baby Jesus Is Baked Into A Cake
Latin traditions around the globe celebrate the Epiphany with Rosca de Reyes (which translates to “the kings’ring”), a cake baked into a circular shape. Within the cake is a tiny figurine of the Christ-child, and whoever finds the piece with the figurine inside it gets something of a mixed blessing.
On one hand the baby is meant to symbolize luck and prosperity for the coming year, and you’ll be considered an honored guest at dinner. On the downside, you are also responsible for not only buying next years cake but making tamales for the Day of the Candles on February 2.
3. In 2013 Bakers In Mexico City Made A Mile-Long Rosca de Reyes Cake
Not surprisingly, the largest and most populous Spanish-speaking city in the world celebrates Three Kings Day with the largest Rosca de Reyes.
Using over five tons of flour, 3 tons of butter and almost 40,000 eggs the ring was over a mile-long, allowing some 200,000 participants to try their hand at discovering the baby Jesus figurine. Hopefully, they didn’t have to make tamales for all in attendance.
4. Some Cultures Burn Their Christmas Trees
As a way to get you to throw your dang Christmas tree out, many cultures burn their Christmas trees in a large bonfire to celebrate the festivities — which is probably the best-smelling bonfire of all time. Loaded with foil-wrapped cookies and chocolates, in some cases, children are allowed to remove the gifts from the tree once it falls.
5. Kids Leave Their Shoes Out For Presents
Similar to stockings at Christmas, many children leave out their shoes the night before Three Kings Day. The shoes are filled with hay to feed the Three Wise Men’s camels, and in exchange, the Three Wise Men leave candies and toys in the shoes of good children. Bad children, however, get nothing but coal and camel spit.
6. Children Roam The Streets, Rewarded With Hot Bebidas
Many small villages encourage children to parade from house to house, just like Mary and Joseph. To fend off the cold January weather houses will serve the children delicious hot beverages, like Mexican hot chocolate (hot chocolate with a cinnamon and cayenne pepper twist) and champurrado (a thick cinnamon-vanilla drink made with corn masa). Adults, on the other hand, like to keep warm with ponche — an apple-tamarind spin on the hot toddy.
7. Unwrapping The Gift Of Tamales
Another Latin tradition throughout the holiday season is making and devouring tamales. These corn-based meat pies are calorie-rich and perfect for fending off cold winter climates, but their shape gives another hint to their meaning. Wrapped in corn husks the delicious treats are like edible presents that families can share with each other.