Saturday, January 06, 2007

Feliz Dia De Los Reyes!
Happy Feast of the Epiphany!

On January 6th, many Hispanic cultures celebrate Three Kings Day, the feast of the epiphany. It's a day to feast and remember the story of the mages who traveled east in order to offer gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the one born King of the Jews: Our Lord Jesus.

Wise men, indeed.

How do Hispanic children celebrate? Instead of writing letters to Santa or St. Nick or Father Christmas, Latino little ones leave notes for Caspar, Melchior, or Balthasar--or all three "kings." Some families leave water and hay outside for the camels, similar to the tradition of milk and cookies for St. Nick. Old shoes might get placed, just so, under the bed, so that gifts might be tucked into them by the mages. Whether in old shoes or no, one or more gifts would be waiting under a wee one's bed come dawn of January 6th.

The scriptural account of the visit of the wise men is found in the second chapter of the gospel of Matthew, as follows:

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

In some places, it's considered bad luck to leave Christmas adornments up after today, including the tree. So, pack up your shiny goodies and store them until this year comes to its own Advent season.

I hope you enjoy your Three Kings Day. It was a lovely, breezy, warm morning here in Miami. I had my Diet-To-Go omelette pomodoro with asparagus tips (yum) and some papaya and cataloupe, and I smooched up my oh-so-handsome hubby, so I started it off pretty well.

Go on. Dab on some oil of myrrh and put on your gold hoop earrings and see if you've got some frankincense to burn. FIESTA!


Camy Tang said...

Wow, I totally didn't even know about this celebration. How cool! What does frankincense smell like anyway?

Mirtika said...

Camy, I can tell you didn't grow up Catholic. :)
Find out how it smells with sticks.