A year from today, on January 6, 2020 my family and I had the opportunity to spend el Día de los Reyes Magos or Three Kings’ Day in San Luis Potosí, Mexico.
This brought back many childhood memories.
I remember being excited about Three Kings’ Day more than I was about el Niño Dios or Baby Jesus’ Day. Twenty-five years ago, Santa Claus was not as popular in Mexico as he is right now, children used to anxiously wait for el Niño Dios or Baby Jesus to bring them gifts on Christmas Day.
My most pleasant memories as a child were during Three Kings’ Day.
I remember dancing as a kid to one of my grandmother’s Three Kings’ Day LP records, I was very excited about the Three Kings bringing us gifts under the Christmas tree.
I also remember cutting the Rosca de Reyes or Kings’ Bread one night, my grandfather was sitting on one side of his long table in the dining room, smiling at me while I was eating my slice of Kings’ Bread. As I took the second or third bite of my Kings’ Bread, I noticed something shiny and hard, but I kept eating it until it began to reveal itself as this gold, shiny “thing.” I was a bit scared, and took it out with my hand and realized it was a beautiful, nice gold ring! I showed it to my grandfather who was sitting to my right and he said, “Te toca traer el vino el día de la Candelaria” – “you get to bring the wine at the Día de Candelaria Celebration!” I didn’t know what this meant, but felt like it was a big deal!
Later on, I learned from my family that our Kings’ Bread had a gold ring, a thimble, and a baby Jesus hidden inside this delicious bread. If one of them found it while they were eating it, they got to bring something special for the Día de la Candelaria or Day of the Candles on Feb. 2nd.
The person who found the baby Jesus in their Kings’ Bread had to bring the food at the Día de la Candelaria party. The person who got the thimble had to host the party at their house, and the person who got the shiny, gold ring, like I did, had to bring the wine at the party.
Traditions for Three Kings’ Day have changed nowadays, my childhood memories were from twenty-five years ago, nowadays Mexico still celebrates Three Kings’ Day with their Kings’ Bread with the exception that now bakery shops put only baby Jesus figurines in the bread. The shiny, gold ring and the thimble are no longer in the bread.
Nowadays, the people who get the baby Jesus figurines in their slice of Kings’ Bread have to coordinate within themselves who is bringing what to the Día de Candelaria Celebration.
Three Kings’ Day traditions have changed so much since I was a little girl living in Mexico, but the essence of the celebration has not. Many children in Mexico still await for the Three Kings who many centuries ago brought gifts to the Son of God, and who will now bring them gifts underneath the Christmas tree or underneath their bed if they leave their shoes out with their names on them.
Last year on January 6th, 2020, my family and I had the opportunity to relive those childhood memories by spending time in San Luis Potosí at the place where I grew up at my grandmother’s house. We also toured the Historic Downtown of San Luis Potosí during Three Kings’ Day or Epiphany Day.
My family and I toured the Centro Histórico de San Luis Potosí on Three Kings’ Day and were surprised to see a giant Kings’ Bread throughout the downtown streets of San Luis Potosí. Almost every street we looked was part of an extension of the long line of the special Three Kings’ Bread that every year San Luis Potosí displays on January 6th to celebrate the coming of the Three Kings’ Day.
Later on, we found out that in many states of Mexico a mile-long “Rosca de Reyes” is made to celebrate Three Kings’ Day. Many local bakery shops are involved in the special making of this bread and on January 6th, the Rosca de Reyes is cut and given to people who are bystanders or who happen to be visiting the city of San Luis Potosí and stumbled across this great event!