Today, we'll celebrate the Tres Reyes Magos Eve. You know them as the Wisemen (or Three Kings). It's celebrated like Santa's arrival, but the only difference is that instead leaving cookies and milk, we need to collect grass and leave it in a shoe box under the Christmas tree for the camels.
Santa Claus is taking his vacation, but we have the opportunity to celebrate once more, the gift-giving (and receiving) all over again. The tradition is followed by most families in Latin America and Spain. This holiday falls annually on January 6. On the night of the 5th, we gather as a family and go to the backyard to collect grass for the camels. It's very exciting as in the morning the children can see the mess that the camel left with the grass.
The arrival of the Reyes Magos is the biblical adoration of baby Jesus by the three Kings, also referred to as Wise Men or Magi. The men found the divine child by following a star across the desert for twelve days to Bethlehem. Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar - representing Europe, Arabia, and Africa respectively- traveled by horse, camel, and elephant in order to present baby Jesus with three symbolic gifts.
The gold offered by one of the wise men is a symbolic acknowledgment of Jesus’ royal standing as “King of the Jews,” while the frankincense manifests the divine nature of the baby’s existence, since he is not an earthly king but the Son of God, and finally the myrrh, often used to embalm corpses, was gifted to the newborn as a symbol of Jesus’ mortality - foreshadowing his death as a means to cleanse humanity of its sins.
Reyes festivities come in different shapes and sizes across the globe from community parades to three-day celebrations at Disneyland - which I didn't knew. As you have your real bearded Santas; in Puerto Rico we have our real Reyes Magos. The picture is from our very own Reyes de Juana Diaz that each year walk down the streets of Juana Diaz City to keep the tradition alive. This particular event was initiated over 129 years ago. It is said that Padre Valentin Echevarria - a Priest from Spain that lived here at that time, was the founder. People from all over Puerto Rico and the world, come to see them. Is a magical experience.
Well there you have it! A little inside of our traditions.
Feliz Dia de Los Reyes Magos!