Kids all over Mexico are excited opening their gifts on the morning of January 6th!
January the 6th is a special day in Mexico. Known as ‘El Dia de Reyes’ (Three Kings Day), The date marks the culmination of the twelve days of Christmas and commemorates the three wise men who traveled from afar, taking gifts for the infant baby Jesus. The children of Mexico in particular look forward to this holiday as traditionally, gifts are exchanged on this date, not on Christmas day.
In Mexico and many other Latin American countries, Santa Claus is not as famous as in the United States. Rather, it is the three wise men who are the bearers of gifts, who leave presents in or near the shoes of small children.
A couple of days earlier, the children write their letters to the three kings: Melchor, Gaspar, and Baltasar, asking for the presents they would like to receive.
Hundreds of multicolored balloons, filled with helium, are sold during the season, so the little ones can attach their letters to them, and have them fly, up to the sky, carrying all their wishes with them.
When the day comes!
On the night, of January 5,Before going to bed the children place their shoes under their bed or in the living room, where the Wise Men will leave them their presents.
You can feel the excitement building up! With twinkling eyes, the children eagerly, and constantly ask what time it is, wishing for time to fly so they can open their presents.
Nervously after a while they go off to bed.
As soon as they wake up, which is earlier than any other day, they run to see the gifts that the Three Wizard kings left for them. Happiness overflows every Mexican home.
The children spend the day playing and admiring each other’s presents, sharing them with friends, talking about how they were able to hear or see the Reyes Magos when they arrived at their home, how one of them heard the camel’s footsteps, how the other saw a shining crown in the dark night! Meanwhile, adults prepare for the Merienda de Reyes, an early evening dinner that friends and families share to celebrate the holiday.
People go to the markets and stores to get an oval sweetbread, decorated with candied fruit. There are Roscas of all sizes, very small ones for two or three people and up to the ones that will delight more that twenty people.
The reunion to cut the Rosca is a multicultural event. The Spaniards brought the tradition of celebrating the Epiphany and sharing the Rosca to the New World. The Rosca is served along with Tamales, made of corn which was the pre-Hispanic food per excel lance, and hot chocolate. Chocolate is also a gift from the native peoples of the New World.
Hidden inside this delicious Rosca, a plastic figurine of the Baby Jesus. The Baby is hidden because it symbolizes the need to find a secure place where Jesus could be born, a place where King Herod would not find Him.
Each person cuts a slice of the Rosca. One by one the guests carefully inspect their slice, hopping they didn’t get the figurine. Whoever gets the baby figurine shall be the host, and invite everyone present to a new celebration on February 2, Candelaria or Candle mass day and buy tamales for everyone.
The Mexican Christmas season is joyously extended up to February 2 ! – when the nativity scene is put away, and another family dinner of delicious tamales and hot chocolate is served with great love and happiness.