¡Ya Vienen Los Reyes Magos!
After New Year's Day, Mexican families still have a very special date to commemorate and enjoy. On January 6, most of the Hispanic world celebrates El Dia De Reyes, the Epiphany, remembering the day when the Three Wise Men following the star to Bethlehem, arrived bearing their treasured gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for Baby Jesus.
The Reyes Magos In La Alameda
A couple of days ealier, the children write letters to the Wise Men, or the their favorite Rey Mago: Melchor, Gaspar, or Baltasar, asking for the presents they would like to receive.
During the evenings before the great celebration on January 6th, some families go to the Alameda, in Jalisco, a beautiful park that dates back to the Colonial Era. There, every year, hundreds of stands are placed with food, toys and best of all, there are sets, where children can have their picture taken with the Three Kings of the Orient.
Hundreds of multicolored helium balloons are sold during the season, so the little ones can attach their letters to them and have them fly, carrying all their wishes with them. If they forgot their letters at home, there are also salesmen that offer writing paper and envelopes specially designed for the occasion and address them to the Reyes Magos. This tradition of going to the Alameda Park is passed down from generation to generation.
January 6, Dia de Reyes
On the night of January 5th, the figures of the Three Wise Men are added to the nativity scene. Before going to bed, the children place their old shoes under their bed or in the living room, where the Wise Men will leave them their presents. Some also place them outside the house with some hay and a bucket of water for the animals, and even some place cookies and milk for Melchor, Gaspar, and Baltasar.
You can feel the excitement building up! Those twinkling eyse, the children eagerly and constantly asking the time, wishing for time to go faster so theu could opend their presents. Going to bed reluctantly.
As soon as they wake up, they run to see the gifts that the Three Magi left for them. Happiness overflows every latino family's home.
The children spend the day playing and admiring each other's presents,shring them with friends, talking about how they were able to hear or see the Reyes Magos when they arrived at their home, and how one of them heard the camel's hoofsteps, other saw a shining crown in the dark night, and their stories would go on and on!
Meanwhile, the adults prepare for the Merienda de Reyes, an early evening dinner that friends and families share to celebrate the Epiphany. [TONIGHT]
Rosca de Reyes
Peple go to the markets and grocery stores to get the necesary ingredients to prepare the feast.
In all LatinAmerica, bakeries offer the Rosca de Reyes, an oval shaped sweetbread, decorated with candied fruit.
The Merienda de Reyes is truly a multicultural event. The Spaniards(the Spanish) brought the tradition of celebrating the Epiphany and sharing of the Rosca to the New World. The Rosca is served along with Tamels, made from corn, which was a pre-Hispanic food per excel lance, and hot chocolate. FYI: Chocolate is also a gift from the native peoples of the New World.
Hidden withing this delicious Rosca, is a plastic figurine of Baby Jesus. The Baby is hidden to symbolize 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. The knife represents the danger in which Baby Jesus was whe Herod ordenated the killing of the new borns.
One by one, the guests carefully inspect their slice, hopping they get the figurine, for it represents the Blessings upon your Home. Although most latinos would reject Baby Jesus...
Whoever got the baby figurine shall be the host, and invite everyone present to another celebration on February 2nd, Candelaria or Candle Mass Day. [...weird names huh.] the host also shall get a new Ropon or dress for Baby Jesus from the Nativity scene. [THIS I didn't know... lol]
The Mexican Christmas Season, and some other LatinAmerican families as well, is joyously extended up to February 2nd! When the Nativity scene is put away, and another HUGE family dinner of delicious tamales and hot chocolate is served with great love and happiness.
¡Happy Reyes Magos Day!