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¡Ya Vienen los Reyes Magos!

On January 6th, Mexicans celebrate the day when the Three Wise Men (Reyes) arrived at the manger in Bethlehem and presented the baby Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. In Mexico, El Día De Reyes, is the day when the children receive their gifts, not from Santa Claus, but from the  three Magi. Several days ahead, children begin writing letters to the Reyes about the gifts they want them to bring for being good. Hundreds of multicolored balloons, filled with helium, are sold during the season, so the little ones can attach their letters to them, and have them fly, up to the sky, carrying all their wishes with them. Before children go to bed, they set out theirshoes under their bed or in the living room in hopes the Reyes will fill them with toys, gifts and candy.

El Día de Reyes is also celebrated with a tradition of eating together and sharing aRosca de Reyes bread with hot chocolate. The Rosca de Reyes is a sweet oval bread, decorated with slices of crystallized or candied fruit sprinkled with sugar on top. It looks like a king’s crown decorated with bright jewels.

The event of cutting the Three Kings Bread (Rosca de Reyes) extends through the day at different social reunions with colleagues, relatives and friends. The bread is cut carefully because hidden inside is a small ceramic or plastic baby doll, which represents the Baby Jesus. The baby doll hidden represents the journey of Jesus, fleeing from King Herod’s evil plan to kill all babies that could be the prophesied messiah. The person who gets the piece of bread with the Baby, must be the Godparent of the Baby Jesus in the celebration of the Candelaria (Candlemas Day), on February 2nd. In the Mexican culture, this person also has to sponsor a party and provide tamales and atoleto the guests.