January 6, = El Dia De Reyes (Or kings day) for the Hispanic world is the celebration of the Epiphany. That is remembering the day when the Three Wise Men following the star to Bethlehem, arrived bearing their treasured gifts for the Baby Jesus.
Because Santa is more of an Anglo custom & due to the predominance of Catholicism in the culture receiving presents during the holidays is a bit diffrent in for kids of the Hispanic world. Children write their letters to the Wise Men instead of to Santa. During the holiday celebration families visit the Alameda, in Mexico City, a beautiful park that dates back to the Colonial era. There, every year, hundreds of stands are placed with food, toys and best of all, there are sets, & kids have their picture taken with the Three Kings of the Orient.
Here balloons, filled with helium, are also popular as a way for the little ones to attach their letters to them, and have them fly, up to the sky, carrying all their wishes with them. On the night of the 5th, the figurines of the Three Wise Men are added to the nativity scene. Before going to bed the children place their old shoes under their bed or in the living room, where the Wise Men will leave them their presents. Some also place outside the house, some hay and a bucket with water for the animals, and even some cookies and milk for Melchor, Gaspar and Baltazar. Adults on the other hand prepare for the Merienda de Reyes, an early evening dinner that friends and families share to celebrate the Epiphany. Tamales & hot chocolate or champurrado are traditionally served.
ROSCA DE REYES is a traditional bread/pastry that is served during the celebration. It is an oval shaped & decorated with colorful dried fruit & powdered sugar. There is a tradition: A baby figurine is hidden in the rosca. Every year competitions and attempts at world record roscas take place in cities & towns that celebrate Dia de Reyes
Whoever gets the baby figurine shall be the host, and invite everyone present to a new celebration on February 2, Candelaria or Candle mass day, and he also shall get a new Ropón or dress for the Baby Jesus of the Nativity scene.
The Mexican Christmas season is joyously extended up to February 2 ! – when the nativity scene is put away, and another family dinner of delicious tamales and hot chocolate is served with great love and happiness.