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Three Kings Day Traditions

Three Kings Day Traditions

CARIBBEAN, CUBA, DESTINATIONS

Every year on January 6, my family celebrates Three Kings Day (El Dia de los Tres Reyes). It’s also known as “Feast of the Epiphany”.   It is celebrated in many countries throughout the world particularly Spain, Italy, and Spanish-speaking countries. Epiphany is when the Three Kings arrived in Bethlehem.  For Spanish children, this is the most important day of the year when they wake up to find that Los Reyes Magos (the Three Kings) have left gifts for them in their house.

January 5, the eve of Three Kings Day,  is a huge party in Spain.  It’s similar to our Christmas Eve celebrations but it symbolizes the end of Christmas.  Families gather together for dinner and wait till midnight to give and receive presents.  It is to celebrate the arrival of the Three Wise Men – Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar.  Just as the Three Wise Men gave gifts to baby Christ, the Spanish give presents to children.

Each city in Spain has parade possessions of the Three Wise Men, the children go along with there parents to see the kings and receive sweets from them.

Before going to sleep, instead of putting some milk and cookies next to the Christmas tree, children leave grass and water under their bed to feed the camels.  Children leave their shoes out the night before or a box, similar to how stockings are left out on Christmas Eve.   In some countries they stuff the shoes with straw or hay for the kings camels.  In Cuba for instance we put the shoes under the bed.  In Spain and other countries they put the shoes under the tree.  The shoes are filled with presents and candy.

 

Shoes filled with candy
Shoes filled with candy
Three Kings Box
Three Kings Box

In the morning the children wake up to see how many presents they have received. If they have been good, they will find a lot of presents but if they have been naughty they will find coal in their shoes. These days, the coal are actually rocks, but some years ago it was real coal.

During this day, all families enjoy a tranditional piece of Roscon de Reyes (King’s Cake) dessert (a sugar-frosted fruit-filled bread) which is served the night before or for breakfast.  Tradition says that the person who finds the plastic figurine of baby jesus, in his or her portion will have good luck for the next year.

 

Roscon de Reyes (King's Cake)
Roscon de Reyes (King’s Cake)

 

Baby Jesus inside Rosca
Baby Jesus Inside Roscan Cake

 

It’s a tradition that has been around in my family for many years and still lives on.   Happy Three Kings Days (Dia de Los Reyes) to everyone!

Do you celebrate Three Kings Day?   

 

About the author

Carmen Edelson is the Founder of Carmen's Luxury Travel. Carmen has been traveling the world for over a decade. Our travels allows her the opportunity to pursuit her itch to travel to the best luxury destinations, and experience those first class tastes from around the world.

19 Comments

  1. Vicky Alonso [MissArretrancos]
    January 7, 2014 at 7:38 pm
    Reply

    I love “Los Reyes Magos”. I look as a child open my presents!!
    Great post, Carmen. You have explained it very well. You only forgot one thing. Inside the “El Roscón” there is a bean, too. If you find the bean you will pay “El Roscón” the next year.
    (Sorry, my english isn’t perfect!)

    http://www.missarretrancos.blogspot.com

    • Carmen
      January 7, 2014 at 7:52 pm

      Hi Vicky, thanks for pointing that out that I forget to mention the bean. If you’re the person that finds the bean inside the Roscon Cake, you pay for the Roscon Cake the following year.

  2. Maria Alexandra @LatinAbroad
    January 7, 2014 at 10:30 pm
    Reply

    I wrote a very similar article about 3 Kings Day traditions on my travel blog yesterday:

    http://www.latinabroad.com/2014/01/06/three-kings-day-customs-traditions/

    What I find the most fascinating though is how the same traditions can very widely across Latin American countries, or even Spain or Italy! That’s what I focused on my blog post, specially when it comes to the Roscon de Reyes 🙂

    Lindo dia!

    -Maria Alexandra

    • Carmen
      January 8, 2014 at 1:59 am

      Hi Maria,

      It most be the latin in us that made us think a like. 🙂 My family from Spain celebrates the traditions that I learned when I was a kid. I remember looking under my bed first thing in the morning to see what the Three Kings had brought me. I read your blog post. You shared some great information.

  3. A Brit and A Southerner
    January 8, 2014 at 4:50 am
    Reply

    Thanks so much for joining up with the #SundayTraveler link-up! This post is great because I love learning about different traditions around the world. The Spanish always have a way to make things really great and I love the concept of the The Three Wise Men and giving gifts to kids.

    Great idea and great job on the post!!

    Thanks for joining up again with this week’s Sunday Traveler linky!!

    • Carmen
      January 10, 2014 at 2:19 am

      Thanks Chris for the linky and your kind words. We celebrate all the holidays at home. My Spanish Catholic background combined with my husband who is Jewish makes it a very festive time during the holidays. Our kids love it because they get extra gifts during the holidays.

  4. Mrs. Chasing the Donkey
    January 8, 2014 at 2:23 pm
    Reply

    Awesome info Carmen, we have this day here in Croatia also, which is totally new to me. As an Aussie we do not celebrate it, I love the little baby Jesus in the cake 🙂 Thanks so very much for linking up, I also pinned your posts I do hope that’s okay.

    • Carmen
      January 10, 2014 at 2:29 am

      Thank you for pinning my post and the link up. When I was in Spain two years ago I was the one that found the baby in the Roscon cake. It’s a fun event for the family because everyone wants to eat the cake to see who finds it. We visited Split this summer. It’s a beautiful city.

  5. A Southern Gypsy
    January 8, 2014 at 4:56 pm
    Reply

    This is great! I love that they leave grass and water for the camels 🙂 Thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler this week!

    • Carmen
      January 10, 2014 at 2:32 am

      Thanks Ashley for the link up in the Sunday Traveler. I’m glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

  6. Samantha
    January 8, 2014 at 7:35 pm
    Reply

    Aww I love this! So nice to keep traditions going and so interesting to read about different ones. Great to find you via Sunday travelers!

    • Carmen
      January 10, 2014 at 3:27 am

      Hi Samantha. Glad to hear that you found me on the SundayTraveler linkup. It’s important for us to keep our traditions alive.

  7. Travis
    January 9, 2014 at 7:32 pm
    Reply

    Great post – this looks like an absolutely fantastic experience. I had forgotten all about Epiphany, but we were quickly reminded when live bands rocked out all night in the main square in Modica, Sicily (where we are currently). Live music turned into fireworks, which turned promptly into people setting off firecrackers like it was going out of style (as you do in Italy!). Glad to have found your blog via Sunday Traveler! Safe travels.

    • Carmen
      January 10, 2014 at 3:51 am

      Hi Travis,

      It sounds like you had a fun and festive evening in Italy. Glad to hear you found my blog on the weekly Sunday Traveler.

  8. Nancie
    January 10, 2014 at 2:35 am
    Reply

    Great post Carmen! I didn’t know anything about 3 Kings Day. I was amazed to read about the King’s cake with the baby in it. Because in Louisiana, we are starting Mardi Gras celebrations and we eat King cake with a baby in it. Our tradition is if you find the baby, you have to buy the next King cake! haha

    Thanks so much for the interesting post! Glad you’ve joined #SundayTraveler!

    • Carmen
      January 10, 2014 at 5:43 pm

      Hi Nancie, That’s funny to hear that they use the same traditions with the King’s cake during the Mardi Gras celebrations. Glad to hear that you found me on SundayTraveler.

  9. Lunaguava
    January 11, 2014 at 12:32 am
    Reply

    Hmmmm, King’s Cake! Really fun tradition for the kids… Lovely post, congrats. Good luck and happy 2014!

    • Carmen
      January 11, 2014 at 2:59 pm

      It’s very tasty. Did you get to participate in the festivities in Mexico?

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