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Celebrating Three Kings Day

While other countries are gearing up for Christmas, most Puerto Ricans are probably looking forward to Three Kings Day. Puerto Rico does celebrate Christmas, but unlike with most European countries, their festivities don’t end on December 25. Instead, the parties continue almost non-stop all the way until January 6th when Three Kings Day draws the festivities to a close.

Three Kings Day, also known as El Dia de los Reyes in Spanish and Epiphany in other countries, is a long held Latin American tradition. It celebrates the gospel account relating to the visit of the three magi – or in this case kings – to the baby Jesus. According to Latin culture, January 6th saw three different men visiting Jesus – Melchor (representing Europe), Gaspar (representing Arabia) and Balthazar (representing Africa). The first is believed to have arrived by horse, the second by camel, and the third by elephant and they brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh respectively. For young Puerto Ricans it is perhaps the most exciting and important day of the year, since it is on this day that they receive their presents. According to popular culture, the youths place a box filled with straw, grass or hay under their beds. This is a gesture of good will and is supposed to be used to feed the king’s horses while they rest as their owners make deliveries. If the child is good, he wakes up the next morning to find candies, sweets or toys in his box. If he was bad, he will only find a lump of dirt or charcoal. Apparently the tradition is much older than that of Santa’s visit on Christmas Eve and much of the proceedings are celebrated across the globe in a similar fashion.

Young adults, on the other hand, get ready to enjoy night upon night of revelries and fun. Their celebrations start straight after Christmas and continue until Three Kings Day in early January. In fact, the Dia de los Reyes party is the next big event on the calendar after Christmas, so a lot of planning goes into it to make sure it is a success. Shops have ceramic wise men, complete with camels that move a little closer to the manager scene with each passing day. The celebrations enjoyed in Puerto Rico continue pretty-much non-stop for two weeks as islanders celebrate each passing night in a different way. The colors, festivities and fun should not be missed out on, so if you can visit Puerto Rico around Christmas, make sure that you stay a few extra days and make the most of this wonderfully festive time of year.


User Comments & Reviews: 1 Comment(s)

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Robert - 2009-12-11 15:56:08

Yes-the island shuts down essentually. Do NOT try and rent a car. They are all booked or extraordinarily expensive. Old San Juan has public trolleys anyway.. Another bit of advice...most accommodations are booked solid as of this post. Especially Old San Juan where all the major activities are including Pr Symphony free concerts and amazing celebrations all month long through January 11th. I have to cancel my 3 week reservation due to illness. :-( If you need my accommodations from Friday December 18th through Monday January 11th email me or contact It is still available and is a fantastic 1 bedroom condo on calle cristo street beside the miracle church and pigeon park.

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