Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: March 24, 2013
Primary Language: Spanish
Other Language(s): Korean, English
“Día de Los Tres Reyes Magos is a huge holiday in Mexico celebrating the day the three kings visited Jesus with their gifts. It’s celebrated on January 6th and is basically the peak of the Christmas season. Because, in Mexico, the celebration extends to days like the Día de Los Tres Reyes Magos, Christmas season goes on forever. Children get gifts on this day, because the Three Kings came to Jesus bearing gifts for Him. This is also the day when people eat Rosca de Reyes. Rosca de Reyes is a dessert bread in the shape of a big oval and has bits of fruit on it. The people that make it hide a little statue of baby Jesus inside the bread somewhere. I think that this is to symbolize having to hide Jesus in a barn so King Herod couldn’t find him. Anyway, so the statue is hidden and the cake is cut up so everyone gets a piece. The person who finds the figurine in their piece is blessed, but they also have to throw a party for Día de la Candelaria, on February 2nd. So some people like finding the statue because it is a good sign, but others don’t because they don’t want to throw a party.”
Unlike the United States in which Christmas is the main holiday and the day that everyone looks forward to, my informant told me the the Día de Los Tres Reyes Magos if often the bigger holiday in Mexio. She remembered thinking that being a Mexican kid is awesome since they celebrate Christmas and receive gifts then, and about a week later they celebrate Reyes Magos so they get gifts again. Her family did not celebrate this second holiday as much, but kept with the tradition of Christmas as the one big holiday during the winter season, so she would often feel jealous of her friends on this day. She said she usually tried to go over to one of her friends’ houses to take part in the festivities that way.
I did not know that the day when the three wise kings arrived bringing gifts, was celebrated. To me it does make sense that this day would often be used for gift exchanges rather than Christmas, since if Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, it should be celebrating the beginning of his life, and not be about presents. I suppose it is part of showing gratitude and giving to others, as Jesus did, but since the wise kings actually gave gifts to the baby Jesus, it seems logical that part of the tradition for this holiday is gift giving. I find it interesting how different countries celebrate the same holiday, but put a twist on the holiday that is uniquely theirs. I think I would have enjoyed celebrating this holiday as well, as I look forward to the Christmas season, and this extends that season.