Día de los Reyes closes the holiday season

“While it saddens us a great deal to not host the event, we want to carefully follow the CDC’s recommendations on social distancing and avoid large gatherings. It is important to do our part in helping to keep the families within our community safe.  We encourage everyone to continue following the guidelines set forth by the Center for Disease Control,” the Spanish American Merchants Association posted on its website.  

Due to COVID-19 mitigations, the organization which hosts the Three Kings Day celebration in Hartford was forced to cancel the event this year.

The Epiphany is a January 6 Christian feast day celebrating the revelation of God incarnate as Jesus Christ.


The commemoration of the three wise men who traveled to visit baby Jesus is very popular in Hispanic cultures; annual traditions include children leaving shoeboxes of hay or grass underneath their beds, parrandas, and rosca.

The Story

According to the Gospel of Matthew, the three Kings, named Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar follow a star across the desert for twelve days to find baby Jesus in Bethlehem.

The kings offered gold as a symbol of kingship on earth, frankincense as a symbol of deity, and myrrh as a symbol of death. The gifts meant to be symbolic, representing a distinct part of the baby Jesus’s destiny:

  • Gold: the belief that Jesus was the King of Jews
  • Frankincense: divine nature of Jesus and the fact that people would come to worship him as the Son of God
  • Myrrh: the fact that Jesus would eventually suffer and die

Traditions

Gift-giving is a special part of Día de los Reyes. Before going to sleep, children place their old shoes and/or shoe boxes with grass for the kings’ camels to enjoy after their long journey, and then wake up to toys and other gifts.

No holiday is complete without a family meal, Three Kings’ Day is no exception.

A popular Mexican tradition is Rosca de Reyes, a round-shaped sweet bread decorated to resemble a crown with the candied dried fruit for the jewels. A small baby Jesus figurine porcelain is baked within the folds of bread. Whoever finds the toy must then host a party for everyone on Día de la Candelaria, the Day of the Candles on February 2.

Music is also part of the celebration. In Puerto Rico, las parrandas begin right after Christmas, with people going door to door at night, singing religious folk songs, and offering small gifts to their neighbors. The custom is similar to caroling in the U.S.

Three Kings Day | Día de los Reyes Magos en Hartford, Connecticut by Wanda J. Barreto

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