January 6th, marks a big holiday for many Latinos around the globe, El Día de los Reyes Magos, or Three Kings Day. Before I was done with my breakfast this morning, my mom had already sent me a picture of her Rosca de Reyes, the cake made in the shape of a wreath eaten on this special day.
Growing up in a multicultural home gave me many opportunities to celebrate or acknowledge a number of different holidays throughout the year from both my Haitian and Mexican backgrounds. Between December and February it felt like there was holiday after holiday to celebrate, with parties leading up to Christmas and then even more after Christmas. Although my mom did a good job in making sure that my brother and I knew it was a holiday, we didn’t exactly celebrate the holidays in the “traditional” way. It was more of an acknowledgement by mom that on that December morning it was Dia de Guadalupe and that we had to call my aunt named after Mexico’s most cherished saint. And then I remember learning a song to celebrate Las Posadas and even singing a solo of that song at the winter performance while in elementary school.
So as a child, when I woke up on Three Kings Day, I would get a quick reminder, maybe a quick lesson, and then the day would proceed as usual. I may have a distant memory of eating the wreath cake, and I do remember learning that a small baby Jesus was placed in the cake for the “lucky” person to find it. But I never decorated a shoe box on the eve of Three Kings Day to leave by my bed for the Three Kings to fill with toys and goodies while I slept under my covers.
Rather than spend a second feeling cheated from a childhood of getting additional gifts after Christmas (hmph!), I decided to start a new tradition from an old tradition with my own kids. We would begin to celebrate Three Kings Day. I would teach my children about this special day and then we would follow the tradition that many Latino children do around the world.
Last night, the children decorated their shoe boxes, wrote a wish list to the Three Kings, and left grass (hay) in their boxes for the Kings’ camels. We talked again about the story of Baby Jesus (which they have already learned about at school for Christmas), and how special it was for my kids to honor the Kings. While they made their boxes, it hit me that celebrating Three Kings Day was not just another way for me to teach my children about Mexican culture and tradition, but also a way for us to talk about the bible and the story of Baby Jesus.
When I spoke to my mom this morning and shared what we did last night, wouldn’t you know she asked a bunch of questions to make sure I celebrated the holiday right.
“Did you remember to put grass?”
“Did you remember to tell them about the baby Jesus in the cake?”
“Will you make the Rosca?”
No mom, not making a Rosca because you never taught me how.
Here are a few pictures of our celebration. Happy Three Kings Day – Enjoy!
Image credits: Three Kings/Flickr.com by Larry&Flo ; Rest of photos by JusticeJonesie