It seems like Christmas comes earlier and earlier every year—and we get it! We love stretching out the holiday season for as long as possible too. There’s nothing better than snuggling up on the couch with a winter drink and a Hallmark movie, surrounded by your family and a bright, twinkling Christmas tree.
But good news: Your Christmas celebrations don’t have to come to an end on December 25. For Christians, December 25 is actually just the beginning of the 12 days of Christmas (yes, the inspiration behind the ever-popular, hard-to-remember Christmas carol!) that lasts until Three Kings Day, also known as Epiphany.
When do we celebrate Three Kings Day?
Three Kings Day is celebrated 12 days after Christmas day on January 6, and represents the time when the Wise Men, also known as the Magi, came to visit Jesus. The Wise Men signify the non-Jewish people of the world, so Three Kings Day is seen as a revelation of Jesus to the Gentiles.
Three Kings Day marks the end of the Christmas season, and many Christians choose to take down their Christmas decorations on the evening before Three Kings Day, also known as Twelfth Night.
What do you eat on Three Kings Day?
People from countries all across the world celebrate Three Kings Day on January 6, and while the festivities may differ by culture, they almost always include a deliciously sweet cake. In New Orleans, Louisiana, it’s customary to buy or bake a King Cake. This round cake is filled with cinnamon, topped with white glaze, and sprinkled with purple, green, and gold sugar. A figure of baby Jesus is hidden inside and whoever finds it in their slice of cake is “king” or “queen” for the day.
What cultures celebrate Three Kings Day?
In England, Three Kings Day is a popular day for theater and plays, stemming from William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, which was first performed on this day in 1601. The English celebrate the feast day in traditional English fashion with a rich, dense fruitcake.
In Spain, Mexico, and Latino communities in the United States, children look forward to receiving gifts from the Wise Men on Día De Los Reyes. Before bed the night before the feast day, kids leave a shoe outside of their room with a note to the Kings.
In France, Three Kings Day is celebrated with a gâteau des rois, a sweet brioche bread topped with candied fruit and sugar. A paper crown is usually included with the cake and whoever finds the figure inside their slice of cake gets to wear the crown as their prize.
It can be so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping and holiday entertaining—and while we love showing our friends and family just how much we love them, after the presents are unwrapped and Christmas dinner is served, take some time to reflect back on what the Christmas season is all about and, just like the three kings, visit with Jesus.
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