Celebrating Three Kings’ Day (Día de Los Reyes) is one of the oldest traditions in Mexico. Children in Latin America receive the majority of their gifts on January 6th from the Three Wise Men (Reyes Magos).
In recent decades, children in Mexico also started receiving presents from Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. Much like the tradition on Christmas Day, on January 6th children wake up early to run and open their presents left by the Three Kings. This is a festive day of games and spending time with family.
Three King’s Day is not a public holiday but a religious observance according to Christian tradition. The history of this tradition is that three wise men or Magi: Melchor, Gaspar and Baltazar, traveled from the East to Jerusalem guided by a star. They were in search of Jesus Christ and wanted to pay tribute to him.
When word reached King Herod that the Magi were searching for the new King of Judea, King Herod sent for them and instructed them to find baby Jesus and let him know once they did, so that he could also worship the Messiah. In actuality, King Herod wanted the baby killed since he felt threatened by him and feared that he would eventually seize his power and take over his throne.
The Magi found baby Jesus on January 6th, which is the day known as Three Kings’ Day or the Epiphany. They brought gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh and that´s why in Mexico and other parts of the world, this day is celebrated.
The wise men did not return to Herod after they found Jesus since God warned them about Herod’s plot in a dream. When Herod learned about this, he became even more fearful of losing his power and he ordered the killing of all babies under the age of two in hopes that one of them would be the new King of the Jews. The Holy Family had to flee to Egypt and hide the Messiah in order to protect him from the cruel Herod.
On Three Kings’ Day it is customary to eat king’s cake (Rosca de Reyes) and drink hot chocolate. King’s cake is a bread with a circular shape and a hole in the middle. It is baked with a plastic figure of baby Jesus inside and decorated with dried fruits.
The circular form of the king’s cake represents the infinite circle of love for God, since it has neither a beginning nor an end. The dried fruits that adorn the sweet bread symbolize the crowns of the Kings, while the figure hidden in the bread reflects the time that baby Jesus had to be hidden from King Herod.
The person who receives the piece of bread with the figure of baby Jesus has to host the party on Candlemas Day (Día de la Candelaria), which occurs on February 2nd. On Candlemas day the family comes together to light candles and commemorate the day of the Virgin Mary. It is also customary to eat tamales and drink atole (a warm and creamy beverage) on Candlemas day.
On January 6, we will be celebrating this special tradition of Three Kings’ Day in the lobby of Garza Blanca Preserve Resort & Spa in Puerto Vallarta from 12:00 pm to 12:30 pm. You will have the chance to try the delicious king’s bread and hot chocolate and help the tradition live on.