Today is a continuation of Christmas here in Mexico. On the church calendar, it’s epiphany. But in Mexico, it’s more commonly known as “El Dia de los Tres Reyes Magos.”
It’s the day that the Magi arrived to visit baby Jesus. The “three wise men” even have names here: Melchor, Gaspar, and Baltasar. One of them rides a horse; the other rides a camel; and the other rides an elephant. Of course, they come bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
But for Mexican families, they come bearing presents for the children, too. On the 5th of January, the children write notes to the three kings (Los Tres Reyes) and tie them to helium balloons. Then, when they go to bed, they put their shoes under the Christmas tree (yes, it’s still up), and in the morning, they see what the Three Kings have left for them.
Many families go to the park downtown to get their picture taken with Melchor, Gaspar, and Baltasar like you would get your picture taken with Santa Claus.
Oh, and of course, there is the Rosca de Reyes, an oval sweetbread, decorated with candied fruit. Each person takes a turn to cut their piece of the bread. Inside the bread, little baby Jesus figurines are hidden. The person who gets the baby Jesus figurine has to host a party for their family and friends on February 2.
So while the rest of the world has moved on and packed away their Christmas things, we are still celebrating the birth of Jesus, thinking about the Magi, and having fun as a family. Happy Dia de los Reyes Magos.
(More information is available here)
(Photos by Christian Frausto Bernal on flickr)
Have you ever thought much about the Magi? They were some pretty interesting characters in the Biblical account of the birth of Christ.
If Herod was really as disturbed as it seems according to Matthew 2, they must have caused quite a stir.
Although traditionally we talk of three wise men, there were probably more. They could have been part of a giant caravan of people traveling through Jerusalem, chasing a strange star. If you have ever taken a group of teenagers on a road trip, you know how much of a hassle it can be to travel in a large group.
Imagine how the palace guard treated this caravan. They probably didn’t receive them with the warm cookies and milk. The Magi might have been lucky to escape with their lives. You just don’t go around asking for the “new” king without causing problems in the current king’s regime.
But these guys had their eyes open and were in tune with God. Herod didn’t have a clue that Jesus had been born until these strangers told him. The Magi, however, had taken the risk to meet the new King. They had ventured into a far away land so they could get a glimpse of what God was doing through the Messiah. And it all happened because they were paying attention to God.
You and I need to have our eyes open and our ears in tune with what God is doing. I don’t want someone showing up on my doorstep because they have seen Him working and I missed it. I want to be paying attention when He is doing something in this world.