While most living in the United States have taken down their Christmas tree and decorations, there are others living here and around the world who are still well into the holiday season and looking forward to Jan.6, “El Dia de los Tres Magos” or Three Kings Day For them, this is the true day to celebrate the holiday with a grand feast.
The date marks the culmination of the twelve days of Christmas. It’s the Three wise men who are the bearers of gifts ot Santa Claus. As part of this tradition, bakeries in Latino communities have been busy preparing the traditional bread, the Rosa de Reyes. The holiday is also known by the name of the Epiphany which dates back to the 4th century.
The Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles is hosting a public event this Friday, Jan. 6. There will be games, hot chocolate, books and other presents for kids.
The main attraction, however, will be a Rosca de Reyes (Kings Bread) — an oval-shaped bread with colorful dried fruit that is meant to resemble a crown.
The event commemorates Three Kings Day, or the Epiphany — the day when Catholic tradition says the three kings Melchior, Gaspar and Balthazar arrived in Bethlehem to bring gold, myrrh and frankincense to the newly born Baby Jesus. The magi had been following a star that led them to Israel.
In Spain and other Latin America countries, children leave their shoes outside the night before much like stockings over the fire place on Christmas Eve. The shoes are stuffed with straw or hay for the Kings’ camels; in its place, the Kings leave small gifts and sweets.
Some families even give out more important gifts on this day instead of Christmas.
Another tradition is preparing the Rosca bread with a little trinket — sometimes a baby Jesus — baked inside. It represents the flight of the Holy Family as stated in the Bible, which recounts how they fled from King Herod’s Massacre of the Innocents.
Whoever finds the prize is believed to be blessed with a fortunate year, and must host a dinner — usually tamales — on Feb. 2, the Day of the Candelaria.
But it’s not just Latinos who will celebrate this Friday.
Among Orthodox or Eastern Christians, Jan. 6 is also known as the Epiphany — the day Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan.
This is the day the Armenian Church celebrates as the holy birth (Sourp Dznount) of Jesus Christ. In Armenian tradition, this feast day commemorates not only the birth of Christ, but also His baptism by John the Baptist. The latter is remembered through the “Blessing of Water” ceremony, which follows the Divine Liturgy on Jan. 6.
By the end of the 3rd century, Christmas in Rome was celebrated on Dec. 25, which coincided with a major pagan feast. The Eastern churches, meanwhile, continued to observe Christmas on Jan. 6.
The Armenian Church has continued that ancient tradition to this day, whereas the Greek-speaking Christian world switched to the Roman tradition at the end of the 4th century.
Armenian-American households may exchange Christmas gifts on Dec. 25 since it is the custom in American society to do so. But in some churches in the United States, it has become traditional to observe the feast of St. Stephen the Proto-Martyr on Christmas Eve, though that feast is movable and may not always fall on Dec. 24.
But the real celebration comes on Jan. 6.
The Mexican Consulate event is from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 6, at 2401 W. 6th St. in Los Ángeles.