Three kings day facts: THREE KINGS DAY — January 6, 2024
THREE KINGS DAY — January 6, 2024
When is Three Kings Day 2024?
Christmas celebrations must go on until Three Kings Day on January 6! For Christians, Christmas Day is just the beginning of the festivities, as it kicks off the celebrations for the Twelve Days of Christmas.
History of Three Kings Day
In Mexico and many other Latin American countries, Santa Claus isn’t as popular as he is in the United States. Rather, it is the Three Wise Men who are the bearers of gifts and leave presents in or near the shoes of small children. The holiday is also known by the name Epiphany and dates back to the 4th century. A grand feast would be held on this day to honor the occasion of Jesus’ baptism and to pay homage to the Three Wise Men.
Many believe mysterious events preceded Jesus’ birth with perhaps the most notable being the appearance of the star in Bethlehem. This new star appeared in the evening sky just prior to the arrival of Jesus. Three wise men, or Magi as they were known, whose names were Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, traveled a far distance to pay homage to Christ. They brought with them fine gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Three Kings Day, or El Dia de Reyes, remains an important holiday for Catholics. In addition to gift-giving, there is also a culinary treat that is specific to the holiday. Known as Rosca de Reyes (King’s Cake), this holiday dessert is a symbolic pastry. Shaped in a circle to signify a king’s crown, this sweet bread holds a special surprise. Inside is a small plastic figurine representing the baby Jesus. Whoever finds this token is obligated to host an upcoming party for the occasion Dia de la Condelaria (Candlemas Day) which occurs each year on February 2.
Three Kings Day timeline
From Rome to Egypt
Though Three Kings Day originated in the Greek-speaking eastern half of the Roman Empire, Clement of Alexandria writes that followers of Basilides in Egypt also celebrate the day of Jesus’ baptism.
December 25, 380 AD
St. Gregory of Nazianzus refers to the day as ‘the Theophany’, saying that it commemorates the holy nativity of Christ.
The pilgrim Egeria describes a celebration in Jerusalem and Bethlehem that she calls «Epiphany», which commemorates the Nativity.
The Twelfth Day of Christmas
Revisions of the General Roman Calendar makes the date of Three Kings Day variable, occurring on the Sunday between January 2 and 8, though it is still more widely celebrated 12 days after Christmas on January 6.
On January 5, the Three Kings are added to nativity decorations and children leave their shoes out over night waiting for a visit from the wise men. When they wake up in the morning, they will find that the Kings have left them gifts inside and near their shoes.
Rosca de Reyes
King’s cake, Rosca de Reyes, is the highlight of the Three Kings Day celebrations. The cake is shaped into an open circle, or wreath, and studded with candied fruit and nuts to represent the jewels in the Magi’s crowns. The tradition of the cake requires that a tiny baby Jesus doll is hidden within the cake. Whoever receives the serving with the Baby Jesus must host February’s Candlemas celebration.
Al fresco feast
In its core, Three Kings Day is in fact a feast day. So it makes perfect since that on this day, families enjoy a big filling meal. In Latin American countries, this feast is enjoyed al fresco, outdoors. Traditional dishes include black beans and rice with some families switching out the beans for peas or corn, soups and salads that feature yucca, nopales, and plantains, and a slow cooked meat sautéed with onions, garlic, and herbs.
60,000 Rosca de Reyes
California’s Northgate Gonzalez Market sells about 60,000 Rosca de Reyes each year. They start selling the original, small rosca just before Thanksgiving. About a week before Christmas, they sell the cakes in four sizes and two varieties: original and filled. One year, the fillings consisted of guava and cheese or pineapple and cajeta.
2,065.43 meters World Record
In 2019, chefs from La Universidad Vizcaya de las Americas were awarded the Guinness record for the longest Rosca de Reyes bread in the world. Measuring at 2,065.43 meters, the lengthy traditional bread beat the previous world holder for the longest loaf, which was Switzerland. Carlos Tapia of Guinness World Records for Latin America verified the length of the bread and its new world record, noting that the previous record held by Switzerland measured in at 973.24 meters. The ring also included more than 7,000 dolls inside of the pastry.
200,000 people annually
Every year in Mexico on the eve of Three Kings Day, a mile-long Rosca de Reyes cake is made to celebrate the holiday. More than 200,000 people gather annually in Zocalo Square to eat a piece of the King’s cake or take some home to save for later. Starting in 2018, Mexico City’s government emphasized that a portion of the delicacy shall be made without sugar so that people who need to avoid sweets are also able to partake in the tradition.
Three Kings Day
Why do we celebrated Three Kings Day?
Three Kings Day is considered the end of Christmas celebrations, representing the day the Three Wise Men gave gifts to Jesus Christ.
What do they eat on Three Kings Day?
A traditional Three Kings Day meal consists of a starter of soup or salad, a main course of picadillo meat with rice and beans (though some families exchange beans for corn or peas), and a King’s cake for dessert.
Is Three Kings Day a religious holiday?
Three Kings Day is a religious Christian and Catholic holiday mostly celebrated in Europe, Latin America, and Spain.
Three Kings Day Activities
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 sugary sauce, with a variety of fillings depending on how decadent you’re feeling.
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.
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.
5 Facts About Three Kings Day
It has many names
Three Kings Day is also widely known as Epiphany, Little Christmas, Theophany, Baptism of Jesus, Denha, and Dia de Los Reyes.
In some cultures, small ring-shaped cakes called Rosca de Reyes are baked with a plastic baby figurine inside, representing baby Jesus.
There may have been more than three Magi
The Bible does not specify the names or number of Magi who visited the baby Jesus.
Jesus received interesting gifts
Gifts of gold, resin myrrh, and frankincense oil were given to Jesus, each serving symbolic importance.
Treat filled shoes
Just like stockings are hung on Christmas for receiving presents, children fill their shoes with treats for the camels of the Three Wise Men and leave them out.
Why We Love Three Kings Day
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.
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.
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.
Three Kings Day dates
Here are some special hashtags for the day.
#ThreeKingsDay #Epiphany #TheThreeWiseMen #TwelveDaysOfChristmas #ThreeWiseMenDay #ThreeKingsDay #EpiphanyDay #ThreeKingsDayParade
7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Three Kings Day
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
Do you think BK paid to be part of the Three Kings Day parade route? Photo: @audrey04120 / Instagram
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
“I broke my tooth on the baby Jesus!!” Photo: @danibennetts / Instagram
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
Wait, then how big was the baby Jesus they hid inside of it?? Photo: @aroccattio / Instagram
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
While Santa Claus quietly weeps. Photo: @obliviousmob / Instagram
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
So… the bigger the shoes, the bigger the presents? Photo: @earlygrabshop / Instagram
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
Give it up for those toasty beverages! Photo: @hanspray / Instagram
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
What’s inside might not be a surprise, but it’s always tasty. Photo: @ruemomma / Instagram
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.
Fun Facts About the Festival |ILS-School
Spain’s annual Three Magician Kings Festival spans two days and features colorful street parades, eating delicious cake with a surprise hidden inside, and flashy costume displays.
Christmas is celebrated like all over the Christian world, but children first receive one small gift, and then one big one, only this time January 6, .
On this day, people remember the three kings or wise men who followed to the birthplace of Jesus Christ and brought him gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Every year on the evening of January 5, , colorful parades are held in Spanish cities and towns to celebrate the arrival of the three wise men in Bethlehem after the birth of Jesus.
Such parades are known as Cabalgata de Reyes Magos.
These parades represent the journey made by the three magician kings to reach the Infant Jesus: the kings throw candies from their camels into the crowd, and the people bring umbrellas and hold them upside down to collect sweets during the procession.
Sweets are supposedly only for children, for whom this annual holiday has become the biggest event. But given the Spaniards’ love of prizes, you can see many adults with their umbrellas upside down trying to catch as many sweets as possible.
In major cities such as Madrid and Barcelona, parades of kings throwing sweets attract hundreds of thousands of spectators and are televised throughout the country, but each Spanish city has its own unique celebration on January 5th.
The atmosphere of the holiday is friendly and a bit like Semana Santa , but without the atmosphere of gloomy religiosity. In addition, the parades usually take place in the early evening so that small children can watch them before bed.
During the day, children write a letter to the wise men asking for what they would like to receive, and before going to bed they leave their shoes on the windowsills or under the Christmas tree to be filled with gifts.
They also usually leave something to eat and drink for the three kings and their camels so they can rest a bit before continuing their journey.
Three kings or wise men perform the same role as Santa Claus at Christmas. A survey conducted in 2015 by the Spanish association of toy manufacturers AEFJ found that kings, or magicians as they are sometimes called, are much more popular among Spanish children than Papa Noel: 68% said they preferred to receive gifts from wise men, and only 27% «sick» for Santa Claus. As with Santa, children write letters to the kings and are encouraged to leave goodies for the exhausted camels of the magician kings before going to bed on the 5th. Good kids get presents, bad kids should get a piece of coal.
On the 6th, after opening presents, people traditionally have breakfast Roscón de Reyes , a delicious round cake adorned with candied fruit, a symbol of the precious stones that adorned the clothes of the sages.
But be careful, because the cake contains two figures in a plastic package, a little king and a bean: if you find a king in your piece of cake, you will be lucky until the end of the year, if you find a bean, you will have to pay for the cake!
For many Spanish families, the Feast of the Magician Kings is an important public holiday, when everyone gets together to watch the children unwrap their second batch of gifts, have a good time together. This holiday is very popular and marks the beginning of the New Year among the Spaniards, gives a huge amount of positive emotions and joy.
what kind of holiday it is and how it is celebrated
Feast of the Three Kings in Spain: history and traditions
The Feast of the Three Kings in Spain, celebrated on January 5-6, is the favorite holiday of all children, because on this day, and not on Christmas or New Year, they receive their main gifts. On January 5, in all the cities and villages of Spain, colorful processions take place — the cavalcade of the Three Magic Kings (Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos). The appearance of the Three Magi Kings — Melchior, Gaspard and Balthazar — is the most anticipated event of the parade.
Who are the Three Kings in Spain and where did the holiday come from?
In the Catholic tradition, on the night of January 5-6, Epiphany is celebrated, the feast of the Three Kings in Spain is timed to coincide with it. The Kings themselves are three wise men who came to greet the newborn Christ Child and brought him gifts.
Each gift had its own symbolic meaning. Gold is a «royal gift» — a symbol of the fact that Christ will become king on earth. Frankincense, a valuable aromatic resin used for incense, has become an offering to Christ as God. Myrrh, another valuable incense used in embalming bodies, was offered to Christ as a future savior who must accept suffering and death in order to atone for the sins of mankind.
As for the Magi, they were all of different ages and belonged to different races. In their person, all the main peoples of the world came to bow to the Christ Child. The youngest was dark-skinned Balthazar, the representative of the Asian race Gaspar was of respectable age, and the white-skinned Melchior was a middle-aged man.
Traditions of the Feast of the Three Kings in Spain
As already mentioned, the Feast of the Three Kings in Spain is celebrated with a magnificent and colorful procession — the cavalcade of the Magic Kings. By the way, the city where this procession was first held in Spain (and, according to some historians, throughout the world), is Alcoy, located in the province of Alicante. The cavalcade of magician-kings here has more than 130 years of history.
The most beautiful, colorful and unusual cavalcades are held in cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Pamplona, La Rioja, San Sebastian, Granada, Elche and in the Aragonese Pyrenees, where the Magic Kings arrive on skis and ski lifts.
Members of the cavalcade, dressed in luxurious costumes, pass through the streets, scattering sweets and toys, which the children are happy to collect. The procession ends with bright fireworks, after which the children rush home to go to bed as soon as possible, because in the morning they will find gifts that they asked in advance in their letters from the Magic Kings.
By the way, about letters, in Spain children turn their cherished requests to the Three Kings, although Papa Noel (this is the Spanish Santa Claus) also writes letters before Christmas. In the cities and villages of Spain, a few days before the feast of the Three Kings, special houses are set up, where the Kings themselves or their pages are waiting for little guests with their letters.
So, the most obedient children, who also did not forget to leave treats for the camels of the Three Kings at night, find the desired gifts in the morning. It is assumed that the Kings will bring only coals to naughty children, but in fact everyone receives gifts, because those who did not differ in exemplary behavior will definitely improve in the coming year.