Editor’s Note: For many Christian traditions, the season of Epiphany begins on January 6 and ends on the first day of Lent. 

One of the benefits of growing up a Latine child in the U.S. is that we get presents twice during the Christmas season. Like everyone else, we get gifts on December 25th when Santa visits. But on January 6th, El Dia de Los Reyes (Epiphany Day), we also get gifts when the Three Kings visit. Just as the three wise men brought presents to Jesús, so do they bring good Latine children presents.

Late to witness the birth of Jesús, the Magi showed up twelve days after finally stopping to ask directions from King Herod. Centuries later, in preparation for their arrival, we would go outside and cut grass, place it in three bundles along with a bucket of water, and leave it in front of the house for the camels to eat and drink.

The joy the three kings’ initial visit signified soon turned to grief. The hope they came to celebrate became hopelessness for the ordinary parents of Palestine who witnessed the murder of their children. The Jewish king Herod, reviled by the Hebrews of his time for his allegiance with the colonizing power of Rome, feared having his authority challenged.



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