What is Three Kings Day?
Three Kings Day is mainly a religious celebration of the biblical story of the three wise men visiting baby Jesus in the manger. The three wise men are also known as the Three Kings. It always takes place on the twelfth day of Christmas. People in Latin America and Mexico celebrate the day with feasts, decorations, and fun.
Three Kings Day All Quick Overview
- Time / Date: January 6
- Category: Religious
- Where It’s Marked: Europe, Spain, Latin America, and the USA.
- Why It’s Marked: The day marks the worshiping of Jesus by the three wise men who traveled far following a star.
History of Three Kings Day
Three Kings Day celebrates the revelation of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, as a human. The day also includes the circumcision of Jesus, the visit of the Magi, Jesus’s baptism, etc. The eastern churches mainly celebrated Three Kings Day but later became a popular celebration of Jesus’s birth.
The day dates back to the fourth century when Jesus was born, and a star appeared in the Bethlehem evening sky. The star appeared out of nowhere before the arrival of Jesus Christ.
The Three Kings Day story goes like that in the Gospel of Matthew, three kings or Magi named Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar travelled to Bethlehem, following the star for twelve days across the desert.
The three men travelled that path to shower Jesus with fine gifts of gold, myrrh, and frankincense, especially to worship the messiah that was born. When they reached their destination, they were thrilled to verify that the guidance of the star actually led them to baby Jesus.
The gifts the three kings gave Jesus symbolized three different aspects of his destiny. Gold symbolizes Jesus as the King of Jews; Myrrh is a perfume to preserve dead bodies implying that Jesus will eventually suffer and die; and lastly, frankincense represents the divine or godly-like nature of Jesus.
But the three wise men weren’t considered kings until after three years of Christ’s death because of the gifts they brought. This celebration is still alive and thriving and known as Epiphany in many families.
How to Celebrate Three Kings Day
El Dia de Reyes, or the Three Kings Day, is still a popular holiday among many Catholics. Children celebrate the day through gift-receiving, where they have to place their shoes outside the house for the three kings to come and leave gifts.
Aside from the gift-giving tradition, a big feast also takes place in many households involving family and friends. Moreover, you can celebrate the day in two ways.
1. Nativity Scene
It’s a tradition of presenting a diorama depicting an overall story of Jesus’s birth. It mostly looks like decoration or a showpiece but holds a lot of history of the day.
On December 24, a baby Jesus figurine is put in the cradle to represent Jesus’s birth. Then on December 31 at midnight, the baby Jesus figurine is dressed in ornamental clothing. Lastly, the three wise men are placed in the diorama to represent their visit and gift-giving to baby Jesus.
On February 2, the complete diorama is removed to commemorate baby Jesus in the temple of Jerusalem.
2. Story Telling
Three Kings Day is an intimate holiday for families. It’s not huge outside Spain. So there’s always a way to spend time telling the day's story to children. Read a book or watch a movie telling the story of Three Wise Men or Three Kings, so the kids know why the celebration takes place.
3. Rosca de Reyes
It’s customary to bake or buy a sweet bread named “Rosca de Reyes (King cake).” The bread is round like a donut, filled with cinnamon, topped with a white glaze, and sprinkled with gold, green, and purple-colored sugar. Sounds yummy! Also, did you notice that the King cake looks like a crown? Interesting!
The exciting thing is that a baby Jesus figurine is hidden inside the bread; whoever gets it will have a year of good luck. But they also have to host a party on Candlemas. It seems like a bit of neutral luck! Moreover, if you find the figurine, you’re the king or queen for the night.
4. Cabalgata de Los Reyes Magos
If you have never witnessed a religious parade, you should definitely see the Three Kings Day parades in some countries like Spain. Countless people slowly carry giant, heavy religious structures and figures down the streets. Usually, the roads get closed for the occasion as the parade takes time to finish. It’s very delightful to watch, but not much being stuck behind it when you have an important meeting.
Countries That observe Three Kings Day
Catholics in Europe, Spain, Latin America, and the USA usually celebrate Three Kings Day.
Interesting facts about Three Kings Day
There are many interesting facts revolving around Three Kings Day. The facts are fascinating as well as educational. If you are up for it, we can tell you some.
- Although the holiday isn’t a big holiday like Christmas, for people in Latin America, the Three Kings are more important than Santa Claus.
- Instead of King Cake, a sweet brioche bread topped with candied fruit and colored sugar, gâteau des rois, is served in France.
- Three Kings Day has many more names, such as Baptism of Jesus, Little Christmas, Theophany, Denha, etc.
- If you are the lucky founder of the plastic baby Jesus in the King Cake, you must make tamales for everyone on Candlemas Day.
- It’s a tradition to serve lamb roast in many regions.
- Balthazar was the king of Arabia or Ethiopia, Melchior was the king of Persia, and Caspar was the king of India according to the Western church tradition.
- The Orthodox Greek Church throws a cross in the water on Three Kings Day and blesses every house in town.
- Disneyland holds a four-day-long celebration starting on January 4 in honor of Three Kings Day.
- Green grass and hay are kept outside the houses for the three kings’ horses.
Unique Three Kings Day celebration ideas
Three Kings Day doesn’t just end with some traditional celebrations but with a lot more unique celebration ideas from around the world.
- In Prague, people swim in the cold water to celebrate the day.
- You can serve warm Czech snacks and mulled wine after the cold swim.
- Arrange letter-writing parties so kids can write what they want from the three kings.
- Join your kids to make handmade crowns and decorations.
- Visit the local parade and give a hand in carrying the large religious figures.
Three Kings Day Quotes
Having trouble finding meaningful quotes on Three Kings Day? Leave the worry to us. Check out these quotes to wish and bless others on this holy day.
“Let the shining star, which showed the path to three wise men, shine upon you and light your way to success.”
“Today is Three Kings Day. May the three gifts of joy, love, and peace be yours today.”
“Home to home, heart to heart, one place to another, let the light shine and the warmth of it fill the season.”
1. What’s another name of one of the three wise men, Caspar?
Another name for Caspar is Gaspar.
2. How long has the Three Kings Day been celebrated?
Three Kings Day has been celebrated since the 2nd century, even before Christmas became a holiday.
3. What’s the most famous carol of the day?
The most famous and familiar song for Three Kings Day is “We Three Kings of Orient Are” by Reverend John Henry Hopkins, Jr.
4. What other regions of the world celebrate Three Kings Day?
Goa and Kerala in India celebrate the holiday, also called Festa dos Reis in Goa.
Three Kings Day Observances
|2021||Wednesday||06 January||Three Kings Day|
|2022||Thursday||06 January||Three Kings Day|
|2023||Friday||06 January||Three Kings Day|
|2024||Saturday||06 January||Three Kings Day|
|2025||Monday||06 January||Three Kings Day|
|2026||Tuesday||06 January||Three Kings Day|
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