January 6, Dia de Reyes
On the night, of January 5, the figurines of the Three Wise Men, Los Reyes Magos, are added to the nativity scene. Before going to bed the children place their old shoes under their bed or in the living room, where the Wise Men will leave them their presents. Some also place outside the house, some hay and a bucket with water for the animals, and even some cookies and milk for Melchor, Gaspar, and Baltasar.
You can feel the excitement building up! With twinkling eyes, the children eagerly, and constantly ask what time it is, wishing for time to fly so they could open their presents.
Reluctantly they go off to bed.
As soon as they wake up, which is earlier than any other day, they run to see the gifts that the Reyes Magos left for them. Happiness overflows every Mexican home.
The children spend the day playing and admiring each other’s presents, sharing them with friends, talking about how they were able to hear or see the Reyes Magos when they arrived at their home, how one of them heard the camel’s footsteps, how the other saw a shining crown in the dark night! Meanwhile, adults prepare for the Merienda de Reyes, an early evening dinner that friends and families share to celebrate the Epiphany.
People go to the markets and stores to get the needed ingredients to prepare the feast.
All over the country, in every city, and in every little town, bakeries offer the Rosca de Reyes, an oval sweetbread, decorated with candied fruit. There are Roscas of all sizes, very small ones for two or three people and up to the ones that will delight more than twenty people.
The Merienda de Reyes is truly a multicultural event. The Spaniards brought the tradition of celebrating the Epiphany and sharing the Rosca to the New World. The Rosca is served along with Tamales, made of corn which was the pre-Hispanic food per excel lance, and hot chocolate. Next Page