“I don’t do Santa Claus! When I was little I waited for Los Reyes” said my cousin Sherly, as her boyfriend tried to convince us all to wait for Christmas day to open presents for their now four month old son. That last part might be because we’re impatient people who don’t entirely respect the whole “opening gifts on December 25th” thing…anyways. Which is true, when we were younger we knew of Santa, but it wasn’t him that we awaited for in massive anticipation.
So today is a very fun and festive holiday…at least in Latin America. For many of us growing up in the Spanish Speaking world we are told at a young age that…wait…do you have kids reading this? If you are under the age of ten please ignore this entire post. Okay, are we clear of children? Good. Anyways, at a young age we are (sadly) told that dear old Saint Nick isn’t real. So who gives us presents? Who brings good little boys and girls goodies during the holiday season?
The three Wise Men, that’s who. Los Tres Reyes Magos: Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar. Therefore, we eagerly await until January 6th for our presents from Los Reyes.
The story of the Three Kings (as is it’s more literal translation) comes with the story of the three wise men who came to baby Jesus bearing gifts, as well as the termination of Christmas.
In some countries the way to celebrate for the arrival of the Three Kings is by preparing a cake called the: King’s Cake or Rosca de Reyes. It is meant to represent the crown of a king, within it is a small plastic doll used to symbolize baby Jesus. It is randomly placed so that no one may know if they are getting the “baby Jesus” this symbolizes the importance of maintaining the location of the newborn baby Christ a secret.
In other countries it is customary to leave; mints, water, milk, cigars, and grass/hay for the camels and or horses in a box under the children’s bed or in a corner of the home. These gifts are then “taken by the Reyes and replaced with toys”. As in, for you parents, the same exchange you would make with Santa ;).