January 6th is the happy day of every year that celebrates the coming of the “Reyes Magos”, the Biblical “Three Wise Men” or “Maggi”, to the delight of Mexican children all over the country. These magical characters, are the equivalent of Santa Claus for kids In Mexico, Spain and Latin America. However, this doesn’t signify that jolly Santa won’t get to visit these countries, but quite the contrary, it means that children here are doubly fortunate during this holiday season.
This celebration is based upon the Bible story that mentions three Kings, (Melchior, an elderly man with white hair and a beard; Casper, the youngest of the three, blonde, from Asia; and Balthazar, middle-aged, dark-skinned, from Africa), who travelled all through the night to visit the newly-born baby Jesus bearing gifts and acknowledging him as the Son of God.
The Three Kings or Maggi are described as “Wise Men”, whose wisdom precisely allowed them to realize the divinity of Jesus. According to the story, they came from three different areas, following the light of the star of Bethlehem that hovered for several days over the manger where the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus.
According to the Book of Matthew (2:11), in the Gospel of the New Testament, each one of them brought with him a coffer with a special treasure. Balthazar offered a gift of precious gold to the baby Jesus, as he was considered to be the “King of Kings” and this was the present destined for monarchs and high dignitaries. Casper brought incense for the Messiah, because they believed him to be the Son of God, and it was customary to burn incense in honor of the divinities; Melchior offered myrrh, because Jesus, being a male child who was to die young, would be needing this aromatic resin for his mother Mary to anoint his body, when the moment of his death arrived.
In today’s day and age, every January 6th, Mexican children leave their shoes in their home’s living room, together with a note to the Kings with their petitions and candies or cookies as a sign of gratitude. Previously, the family has enjoyed cutting the Day of the King’s Holiday Loaf and enjoying it with a cup of hot chocolate, to warm their spirit and tummies!