Celebrating Three Kings Day

| January 6, 2021 | 20 Comments

Three Kings cartoonThree Kings Day, also known as Little Christmas, Twelfth Night or, of course, the Feast of Epiphany, is celebrated on January 6th. Coming a dozen days after Christmas, the day is the official end of the “Twelve Days of Christmas”. In some parts of the world, this holiday is as big and important a part of the Christmas celebration as December 25th. Three Kings Day is a particularly important holiday in the Hispanic culture. Celebrating Three Kings Day can include gift-giving, special foods, and other rituals. If you’d like to celebrate the holiday with your family, here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Food. The only traditional part of a Three Kings Day meal is the King’s Cake. Recipes for King’s Cake are easy to come by and there are different variations, but a King’s Cake is usually crown shaped, made with egg bread, and flavored with citrus fruits and other candied fruit. Sometimes brandy is included. Most importantly, a King’s Cake always has a small trinket of some sort hidden in the bread. Three King’s Day meals are not extravagant. Some common dishes served on that day are tamales, meat stew, pork, or ham. French families make small pastries to go with the King’s Cake.
  • Gifts. Traditionally, the story is that the three kings (otherwise known as the three wise men) Balthazar, Melchior and Gaspar, stop by on their camels to drop off gifts. This stems from the story of the three wise men bringing gifts to baby Jesus after learning of his birth. One tradition is for children to fill a small container, like a shoebox, with grass, and leave it underneath their bed with a list of gifts they would like to receive from the three kings. The grass is to feed the camels that the kings will ride on. When the kids go to sleep, you can empty the grass out of the boxes and replace it with their gifts from the kings.
  • Other Traditions. In some families, rather than leaving a note with the shoeboxes, children attach their wish lists for the three kings to a helium filled balloon, then release the balloon into the sky. It’s also customary for some families to leave candy or cookies for the kings along with the grass for the camels. Some families in the Dominican Republic celebrate by eating sweet bread, and other families bake plastic Jesus figurines into the King’s Cake. Whoever gets the piece with the figurine is supposed to have good luck.

Three Kings Day is an interesting holiday that can be a lot of fun. If this isn’t currently a part of your after-Christmas routine, consider starting a new tradition by celebrating Three Kings Day with your family.

Comments (20)

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  1. desiree says:

    wow if i new this i would like this it sound like fun form the family taraditions

  2. Julie Wood says:

    I did not know anything about the Celebrating of the Three Kings Day. I found this blog post to be so interesting. I like the celebrating of the Kings Day and the Three Kings!

  3. denise smith says:

    i have never know anything about the celerrating of the three kings day thanks so much

  4. Rosie says:

    Where I used to work, when I had a job (sigh!) one of the client firms would always send a King’s cake. It was always the same and soooo good, everyone would stop working and dive for it!!!! We would always see who got the little prize in the cake. A few minutes fun that we had a good time!!!

  5. Chrystal D says:

    The King’s Cake sounds good! I’m going to find some recipes for that!

  6. I had just read about this the other day on another blog but before that I had never heard of the holiday. I hear it is popular in Latin American countries.

  7. Terrie Meerschaert says:

    I follow a Polish Catholic tradition of burning incense because one of the gifts was frankincense and the incense we use has gold covered beads in it for the gift of gold. The resin myrrh is also included in the incense because it was a gift. Then we take blessed chalk that comes with the Three Kings Incense and write the following on the lintels of the house doors that lead to outside: K + M + B + 2013. The initials stand for the three kings names’, Kaspar, Melchior and Balthazar. The current year is used. This asks blessings on all those who travel in and out of the doors for the coming year.

  8. Jo-Ann Brightman says:

    Latin countries and parts of Europe celebratethis tradition. I love the King’s Cake and getting the trinket to be the Queen of the day!!

  9. Bashir Ahmed says:

    Intresting, I never knew about the Three Kings day. Thanks for bringing in my attention.

  10. Heidi LeMay says:

    Our family tradition has always been to leave the tree up until Little Christmas. I figure these days ,no one knows about it.

  11. Judy Bradley says:

    Thank you for posting this. I love learning of others’ traditions and the meanings of different terms I have heard over the years.

  12. Michelle F. says:

    My family celebrates it every year.

  13. Dianna Thomas says:

    My Older two childrens In-laws celebrate this–and we had the oppertunity to get to share in this–the food was outstanding, and there was a few games but Im not sure much about the celebration it self there probably much more to this.

  14. Holly Trudeau says:

    This was so informative and interesting, I never heard of Three Kings Day until now, thanks for sharing!

  15. Ashima Gupta says:

    Woww… i didnt knw abt dis…. thanx a lot 🙂

  16. rishabh says:

    i think celebrating the day would be nice

  17. Christina M Kelbel says:

    I learned something new today! Thanks for posting this, very interesting.

  18. Jenn says:

    This is the first I have ever heard of this. I would love to try the Kings Cake

  19. Laura Lane says:

    It’s the 12th day of Christmas!

  20. pamela resendiz says:

    i knew about the hispanic’s giving out tamales and candy but did not know it was in jan. also i have had the 3 king cake..
    ok now i know to clelebrate with my hispanic friends..

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