The Cottrills and the Magi

by Jim on 6 January 2007

Today is Día de los Reyes Magos (Day of the Magi Kings) here in Mexico.  In Canada most people generally miss the significance of Epiphany, which is celebrated in many othere countries.  Mexico is rich with tradition on this day.

Boys and girls recently wrote thier letters to the Magi, asking for the gifts they wanted.  Those letters were tied to helium balloons (for sale everywhere) and sent up into the sky.  Last night, they were lying in bed wondering if the three kings were going to grant their wishes.

This morning, they no doubt found their new toys, probably on top of their shoes (I think the original tradition was in the shoes, but who’s satisfied with gifts that size these days, unless they’re iPods?).

This being Shari’s and my second Three Kings Day in Mexico, we took on some of the traditions.  We had a few gifts that we held back at Christmas for the kids.  Last night we got together with some friends (missionaries heading the Honduras from the States) and had the traditional rosca – a specially shaped cake like the one you see in the photo (courtesy of Christian Frausto Bernal).  Inside are tiny white dolls, representing baby Jesus.  The first person to get a doll has to host the next party, on February 2nd (Día de la Candelaria, Candlemas).  This year, I was the lucky one.  🙂

Rosca de Reyes

The Mexican traditions are a blend of many cultures.  The Rosca tradition comes from Spain.  The rest of the traditional meal shows a pre-Spanish heritage – hot chocolate (chocolate is from Mexico) and tamales (corn or maize being the staple of the new world).  There are also hints of both Christian and pagan beliefs in some traditions.

Around this time of year you can also get your picture taken with the 3 mystics.  We saw them in the mall in fabulous costumes, where I believe Santa was before Christmas.

(Note:  Yes, there’s a lot of extra or non-biblical tradition here.  In the Bible, these were Magi or “wise men”, not kings, and we don’t know how many there were or what their names were.  See 7 Things you might not have known about Christmas…)

You can read more about the Mexican traditions here:  ¡Ya Vienen Los Reyes Magos!

Below you can see all of us about to enjoy our rosca.  Now next year, remember: if you didn’t get everything you wanted for Christmas, ask the Magi – perhaps they’re still in a giving mood!

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Aunt Luella January 8, 2007 at 1:09 pm

I was wondering if you’d celebrate this special day. I saw it explained on a morningTV show here on Friday. I thought it was kind of neat, actually, but then I do like rituals and traditions – probably more than I should! The bread looked good, too.

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