The Christmas season traditionally ends on Epiphany. This day, January sixth, is also known as Three Kings' Day. It's celebrated by many Christians as the day that the Wise Men arrived in Bethlehem to visit the baby Jesus and offer their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. In Latin cultures, this day is called El Dia de los Reyes Magos. Throughout the world, Epiphany is celebrated with feasting, carolling, parades and gifts for children.
Three Kings Cake
This sweet bread or cake, enjoyed by many Christian cultures, is made with eggs, flour, walnuts or pecans and powdered sugar. It is traditionally baked with a small bean or plastic baby (to represent the baby Jesus) mixed into the batter or inserted into the baked and cooled cake. Let your children help by mixing the batter, dropping the bean into the mix and drizzling the brown sugar icing onto the cooled cake. To serve it, help your children cut the cake and serve a slice to each member of the family. The person who finds the "baby Jesus" in his slice will have good luck for the upcoming year.
Letters to the Three Kings
On December 31st, sit down with your child (as those in the Latin tradition do) and help them create a letter to one of the Three Kings -- Balthazar, Melchor or Gaspar. If your child has already received gifts for Christmas, encourage her to ask for non-material things like better grades at school or more patience with her younger siblings. Then tie the letter to a balloon and send it off into the air, so the wind can carry the balloon and letter all the way to the Kings in the Orient. On January fifth, have your child place an old shoe under the bed to be filled by the King as they sleep.
Three Kings Parade
On Three Kings' Day, kids can have their own parade. Have them dress as one of the Kings, making sure that they have a crown on their head. You can cut and staple one out of construction paper and let your child decorate it with glitter glue and sequins. Add fake beards or mustaches too. Have them ride their bikes and trikes, weather providing, as stand-ins for the Kings' camels and horses. Let them parade around the neighborhood. Alternately, pack gifts of baked goods and other small treats for them to deliver (as their gold, frankincense or myrrh), dressed as one of the Kings, to neighbors.
Take a Three Kings' Day tradition from Europe and allow your kids to serenade the neighborhood with carols about the Wise Men and the star of Bethlehem in the tradition of the "Star Singers." On a night between New Year's and January 6, accompany your children around your neighborhood singing "We Three Kings" and "O, Little Town of Bethlehem." Carry a large star on a string or stick to announce your representation as the Kings who followed the Star to the place where the baby Jesus lay. You could also travel in a group of three, dressed as Balthazar, Melchor and Gaspar to complete this festive tradition.
- Emmanuel: The Visit of the Magi
- mrdonn.org: The Day of the Three Kings/Epiphany
- Hispanic Culture Online: Dia de los Reyes Magos: Three Kings Day
- DKTK’s Growing Together: The Wise Men
- Clementine’s Corner: The Three Wisemen
- 123Holiday.net: History of 3 Kings Day – Epiphany
- Catholic Cuisine: King Cake for Epiphany