By January 6th most Americans who celebrate Christmas have put away the decorations, gone back to work, and moved on with the new year. But in many cultures around the world, people pause again and celebrate Three Kings Day. The Huffington Post has posted photographs from around the world. If you click on this link you will find two features. The first is a video explaining Three Kings Day and the one below it is a slide show of fifty-one photos from around the world.
If you travel at this time of year, you may just want to extend your holiday and see what other cultures do. You’ll find parades as well as some crazy traditions. A lot of them involve camels, dressing like the three kings (see slide show above), wearing crowns, eating special foods, or taking a plunge in some pretty cold water—now that would require a real Spirited Woman.
A lot of celebrating goes on just south of our border. Kids in Mexico get three presents from the three kings, and people in the Caribbean say Three Kings Day is bigger than Christmas because it's the Epiphany.
In Switzerland people buy Three Kings Cake, Dreikönigskuchen, a treat similar to hot cross buns. And whoever gets the bun with the plastic or porcelain king inside wins the crown that comes with the packet.
It’s the same in France, but the hidden treasure can be any kind of small trinket or a bean.
Mexico has a similar tradition with La Rosca de Reyes, a ring-shaped sweet bread with a baby Jesus figurine somewhere inside. Whoever gets a piece of bread with the figurine gets to prepare tamales for everyone on February 2nd, the Day of Candles. Hunh!
That sounds like more work than being in Europe—or in the Philippines, where the three kings just throw candy to the children along the parade route. That’s even easier.
From the slide show, you’ll see that the parades can be elaborate, especially in the old Soviet Union region and the Balkans.
What surprised me this year is that according to The Huffington Post, Three Kings Day celebrations are spreading throughout the US. Most are organized by Latino cultures and called Día de los Reyes. So if you go to New York or California over the holidays, you can see something new. Disneyland is on its third year of celebrating Three Kings Day in Paradise Garden.
There’s always something new to learn. Happy travels in 2014.