For many Hispanic cultures, it is a custom for parents to tell their children that if they leave their shoes or shoe boxes by their beds, the Three Kings will visit during the night and fill them with small gifts. The annual tradition celebrates Three Kings Day Jan. 6.
The holiday derives from the story of the Three Wise Men, who traveled to visit the infant Jesus and present him with gifts after his birth in Bethlehem.
Unlike Santa Claus, parents will not encourage children to leave out cookies, but rather to leave grass or hay and water for the kings’ camels the night before. On the morning of Jan. 6, children will wake up to find the grass replaced by gifts.
Families also may celebrate Three Kings Day by attending a parade, dressing up as the kings or eating special holiday pastries. For example, this year, Rochester’s Latinas Unidas is hosting a “drive-in-style” Three Kings celebration Jan. 9.
Other families also may celebrate the feast day by creating craft projects with their children. The following is the material list for a Three Kings Day craft demonstrated in a video on El Mensajero Católico’s YouTube channel.
Materials for the Three Kings and camel:
• Four toilet paper rolls and one paper towel roll (cut in half)
• Construction paper or premade crowns
• Yellow or brown paint and paintbrush
• Glue gun
• Black marker