Celebrating Three Kings Day

Posted: Sun, Jan 6, 2019 8:54 PM

As the Christmas break comes to an end, the decorations come down and the January blues set in, it’s easy to forget that the holiday season isn’t actually over yet! 

For many, the holiday season officially ends on January 6th, which is the 12th day of Christmas, known as Día de los Reyes or Three Kings Day. It celebrates the story of Three Kings (or Three Wise Men) and their journey to visit baby Jesus. In the Gospel of Mathew, the Three Kings find baby Jesus by following the path of a star across the desert for twelve days. They travelled to Bethlehem and brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for baby Jesus. 

Christmas Day is a national holiday in Spain, but unlike here in the UK, it is usually a more low key affair with families coming together for a big meal on Christmas Eve known as Nochebuena. Children may receive a small gift or two on Christmas Day, but the big day for presents is actually on 6th January, on Día de los Reyes, Three Kings Day. 

In Spain, The Three Kings, play a similar role to Santa Claus. In the lead up to Día de los Reyes, children will write letters to them asking them for gifts and the day before, Spain celebrates by hosting elaborate parades and celebrations where the Three Kings will throw sweets into the crowd. People often use upside down umbrellas to catch as many as possible! 

After the festivities, when families return home, children will excitedly leave their shoes by the door in the hope that the Three Kings visit and leave gifts inside. Many families also leave gifts of salt or grass for the camels that the Three Kings are said to ride on - just as we do in the UK, with milk and cookies for Santa Claus and carrots for his reindeer.

Another part of this wonderful day is the Roscón de Reyes, a Three Kings cake baked in a ring and decorated with glazed fruits, to represent the colourful jewels and look like the crown a king would wear. Buried inside, there is often a little surprise - a figurine of baby Jesus or a small toy. The person who finds it in their slice is said to have good luck for the year! 

Of course, the fun of the Three Kings Day isn’t limited just to Spanish speaking countries - it is a day celebrated all over Europe, with traditions varying from country to country. 

If you would like to find out more about other Christmas traditions around the world, please download our FREE activity sheets - available only until Tuesday 8th January 2019.