It’s back to work and school for many of us who took some much-needed time off during the Christmas season. Many of you may have even packed up your decorations until next year.
But did you know that the Christmas season traditionally runs through the feast of the Epiphany, which is celebrated on Jan. 6 or on the Sunday between Jan. 2 and 8?
The “Epiphany,” or “Three Kings Day” is especially celebrated in Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Spain.
So how do some of these countries commemorate the visit of the Magi to the Christ-child?
While the details of the celebration differ among the world’s 22 Spanish-speaking countries, they tend to include gift-giving, parades, and food. Many countries also have special traditions for children, who receive their holiday presents from the Three Kings as opposed to Santa Claus. Instead of milk and cookies for St. Nick, for example, these kids leave water and cut grass out for the camels carrying the Magi.
Hispanics in the U.S. also observe Día de Reyes, or have fond memories of the holiday. I want to share a few anecdotes from our Focus family:
- Kat Bittner, who works with our magazine and publications team as a working supervisor, celebrated Three Kings’ Day with her extended family – which included 20-30 primos (cousins)! The family would attend Los Angeles-area festivals, participate in a special worship service, visit nativity scenes, share stories about the special day, and enjoy food and music.
In keeping with their Mexican roots, all the children in Kat’s extended family would indulge in a Rosca de Reyes, a king’s cake pastry traditionally eaten on Epiphany. The child who found the Baby Jesus received a special sweet treat – and a $20 bill. It all made for “great childhood memories and recognition of my Mexican heritage.”
- Dante Miró, who works as Focus’ director of marketing, also celebrated Three Kings’ Day as a child growing up in the States. His family kept the Puerto Rican tradition of gathering hay (or grass) for the camels. During a Christmas trip back to the island, Dante saw how children went to the mall to have their pictures taken with the Three Kings.
Now a father himself, Dante continues to celebrate Three Kings’ Day with his children “as a way to connect them to their Hispanic heritage, and as a way to demonstrate that Jesus came to save both Jews and Gentiles.”
- Victor Arias, who works in our IT department, arrived in the United States 10 years ago. Growing up in Paraguay, he didn’t remember much talk about Santa Claus – but ask him about Three Kings’ Day, and you get a very different response.“For us kids, our ‘big day’ was Día de Reyes. All of us anxiously awaited our gifts. We had to take our shoes and put them on our window to signal to the Reyes that we wanted gifts. We would also leave very green grass to feed the camels.
“While we slept, our parents would take the grass and leave our gifts on our beds, so the first thing we saw were our presents. Since we didn’t have school on that day, all the neighborhood kids headed outside to show off and share our presents. It was a big party!”
Perhaps it’s because diversity was a large part of my upbringing in California, or because I got to travel extensively during my time as vice president over Focus’ international efforts, but I love to hear how different cultures and traditions celebrate our shared Christian faith.
So this year I’d like for Focus to commemorate the holiday by making it easier for parents to tell their children about the Wise Men who brought gold, frankincense and myrrh to baby Jesus. To that end, I’m happy to offer a free download of a two-part Adventures in Odyssey episode titled “The Star.” In this adventure, Connie and Eugene meet King Herod, the three Wise Men, and baby Jesus. You can download “The Star” here.
And if you like what you hear, you should also check out our Adventures in Odyssey webpage and our Odyssey Adventure Club, which offers members daily devotions, a Clubhouse Magazine subscription, exclusive video stories, and – best of all – unlimited episode streaming of more than 800 AIO episodes! You can also sign up for a free 14-day trial of Odyssey Adventure Club.
And if any of you want to share your Three Kings’ Day memories – or any other way you celebrated or continue to observe the holidays – let me know in the comments section, below.