One of the oldest traditions in Mexico’s history is just around the corner! On January 6th each year, we gather to celebrate Dia de Reyes, or Three Kings Day, a unique part of Mexican Christmas celebrations that involves games, family reunions, and—of course—presents!
What is Three Kings Day?
On January 6th each year, we celebrate a unique holiday called Dia de Reyes. Three Kings Day pays homage to the Three Kings of the East who visited the baby Jesus in the Nativity story. While Three Kings Day has its roots as a religious holiday—and is still a holy day for many Mexican families today—the holiday’s emphasis is on family.
Kids wake up early on Three Kings Day to open presents left by their family’s nativity set or Christmas tree. The idea is that the Three Kings of the East left these gifts for well-behaved children on their journey, allowing the magic of Christmas to last just a little longer.
What are Three Kings Day traditions like?
Three Kings Day is a Mexican tradition that stretches all the way back to the time of Spanish colonization. In other parts of the world, January 6th is also known as the Epiphany, but it’s in Mexico where the day turns into a massive fiesta.
Some kids leave their shoes out the night before, filled with hay to feed the Three Kings’ hungry camels. In the morning, the hay is gone, and the shoes are filled with candies or small toys instead!
On Dia de Reyes, kids wake up early to unwrap presents—instead of Santa bringing gifts on Christmas Eve, the Magi (the Three Kings of the East) bring gifts to good children the night of January 5th. For this reason, many families in Mexico leave their Christmas trees up through at least January 6th.
Because Dia de Reyes is a family holiday, many Mexican families spend the evening playing games and reconnecting with extended family members. It’s traditional to have a big party, a big meal, or both!
What food do you eat on Three Kings Day?
Both Mexican hot chocolate and atole—a rich, warm drink made from corn—are traditional during Three Kings Day. Families feast on black beans and rice, slow-cooked meat like chicken or pork, and soups and salads that highlight traditional Mexican ingredients like yucca, nopales, and plantains.
Plus, Three Kings Day is so important it has its own cake! The traditional Rosca de Reyes is a circular, sweet flaky pastry decorated with dried fruits and other delectable morsels. For one lucky family member, their snack contains a figurine, usually of the baby Jesus.
The person who finds the figurine makes the plans for Dia de la Candelaria, or Candlemas Day, the true end of the Christmas celebrations in Mexico. On February 2nd, everyone present at the Three Kings Day celebration gathers for a tamale feast, hosted by whichever lucky family member discovered the figurine in their Rosca de Reyes slice.
How do I celebrate Three Kings Day at home?
Above all, Dia de Reyes is meant to be a family holiday. You can celebrate Three Kings Day with a full feast and an elaborate Rosca de Reyes ceremony, or you can honor the day with a quiet meal at home with your loved ones.
Find ways to strengthen your connections to your friends and family: play games, call relatives you haven’t seen in a while, and watch family movies or look at family photographs. Share memories and jokes, and just enjoy each other’s company!
From all of us at MexiCrate, we wish you and your family a happy and healthy New Year—and we hope we get to come along for your Three Kings Day celebrations! Shop our full dulceria for your favorite Mexican candies from childhood. Or, make a new tradition with one of our variety boxes, a great way to experience a larger part of Mexico’s vibrant candy culture!