As a child in Puerto Rico, I remember how my older brother and I would fill our little Buster Brown shoe boxes with grass to place under our beds on the eve of Día de Reyes, or Three Kings Day. We expected the Wise Men’s camels to eat the snack after a long journey. As a token of their appreciation, the kings would leave behind little presents and yummy treats for us to find the next morning.
This year I have decided to incorporate Three Kings Day as one of our holiday traditions, minus the fictional kings and camels visiting our home, of course. Still, I like to share my childhood memory with the kids, since it’s still a cute story just like Santa Claus. Our focus remains the birth of Jesus, the reason for the Wise Men’s voyage.
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” (Matthew 2:1–2)
When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:9–11)
We reviewed the story of the Magi found in Matthew 2:1-12. “We Three Kings” has been one of our favorite Christmas songs to sing this season, especially for one of my toddler twins. She sings it often when looking at the nativity scene in our living room. Interestingly, we learned that they were moreso wise men rather than kings, and there may have been more than three who traveled to see the newborn King. You can read more about some misconceptions and the biblical account of the magi at answersingenesis.org.
Three Kings Day is officially the last day of our holiday celebrations. For us this celebration is an intimate one – just Mom, Dad, and the children. Although this year, Auntie and Abuelita joined us as well. Our older boys were in NY during the holidays, and arrived back home the morning of Three Kings Day. Since we all had been apart during Christmas and New Years, I felt it would be fitting to share this holiday celebration together. So I hurried up and planned a festive dinner.
I need to confess that my King’s Crown Cake was not at all the traditional recipe. An authentic Roscón de Reyes is more of an oval-shaped sweet bread topped with candied and dried fruits. Because my dinner plans were made last-minute, I decided to do an upside-down pineapple cake in a Bundt pan decorated with pineapple chunks, maraschino cherries and sliced almonds. I have already decided that next year will be a different story! I will conquer the Roscón de Reyes recipe yet! (Plus it will be quite a project since the best recipes I have found are all, of course, in Spanish.)
We are still enjoying the leftovers from our wonderful Día de Reyes dinner, and even had some time to make guava and cream cheese empanadas this morning for brunch. (Used store bought pie crust, guava paste, and cream cheese). The only thing that was left to make was homemade hot chocolate, Caribbean-style!
This is the first of many Día de Reyes celebrations we will enjoy as a family. It’s a wonderful way to continue focusing on the birth of Christ, along with enjoying each other in a much more intimate setting. We desire to be like the magi who traveled from the East in search of the Messiah, the true King – seeking to be in His presence, falling down before Him in worship, and offering Him the treasures of our obedience and praise.