January 8, 2023
Festivals are universally-shared celebrations of life, and they are as diverse as the people of our beautiful planet. In celebration of the festival traditions that bring us together, we would like to share with you the experiences of several of our LifeWays family this year, all from different walks of life and spiritual traditions.
Today, we are so pleased to welcome back our friend and colleague, Marielle Sestier to share about the beautiful celebration of Three Kings Day that her family has created from a union of Mexican and French childhoods. Marielle is co-founder of LifeWays America Latina, an organization providing an offering of LifeWays North America in Spanish.
¡Feliz año nuevo!
Following last week´s article from Cynthia about the Three Kings, I would like to share a few simple rituals and ideas to celebrate the festival with children. I will describe how I celebrated it as a child and how I do it now with my kids. A mixture of cultures and family traditions.
In México, “el día de los Reyes Magos” (Three Kings Day) is a HUGE celebration. Usually, on the night of the 5th of January families gather to share a special bread called “Rosca de Reyes” Kings Crown with a cup of hot chocolate. A bread rich in symbolism, it is round because it represents the eternal love of God without beginning nor end; it is decorated with colorful dried fruit representing the jewels of the crown of the kings; and there is a hidden doll inside representing the baby Jesus. The person who finds the doll is supposed to take care of the child until the 2nd of February and invite the party to regather and eat tamales for Candlemas.
But there is much more happening that holy night~ the Three Kings pay a visit to each home bringing presents to each child. It is the day when children receive the most presents, not on the 25th of December. This is a very popular festival, and during this time of the year, it is common to see people dressed as the three wise men with their respective animals.
I was raised under French traditions in Mexico, and never understood why the Three Kings did notb visit us. They arrived at all my friends’ houses, with their animals leaving footprints and other mysterious things happening, but not in our home. It made me feel very sad.
In France, “La fête des Rois” is commonly celebrated by eating “Galette des Rois” a delicious almond cake in which a fève ( a bean) is hidden (that bean has commonly been replaced by a lovely figurine, sometimes a Santons de provence)
That was the celebration we had at home. The close family was invited, and the Galette was displayed on a beautiful table with a golden crown nearby. All the family gathered around the table and the youngest person of the family went underneath the table; the oldest person cut the cake. When a piece was cut, the person under the table (it is usually a child, but I remember my brother being 21 years old under the table…) said the name of the person who will get that piece. When every guest had a piece, we ate together and the person who was lucky enough to find the “fève” became the king or queen of the night. They put on the crown, chose a partner and provided hugs to all the participants.
My husband was raised celebrating Los Reyes Magos and I was raised with Les Rois Mages. Now, we live in Colombia where this festival is not part of the culture. What an amazing opportunity to reflect and build our own and unique family tradition!
Inspired by the Living Arts, I will share the different activities, we usually do during this time:
After the new year, we started singing songs and telling a beautiful story about the Three Kings.
Story: Noche de Reyes – You can listen to it in Spanish our podcast HERE
Song in French: J’aime la galette
J’aime la Galette
Quand elle est bien faite avec du beurre dedans
Tra la la la lala lal lere (bis)
Song in Spanish: Ya vienen los Reyes Magos
Artistic Activity: We made crowns, of course! We have used different techniques each year, appropriate to the age of the children.
My two children love the ritual of hiding underneath the table. It is a very special and fun moment they anticipate. This year, inspired by Cynthia’s Celebration, we had three crowns hidden in our Rosca or galette and had the Three Kings to give gifts (We LOVED it)!
And yes, the Three Kings pay us a visit during that holy night even though we live in Colombia. We know they are good travelers. We have been looking at the stars these days, trusting they will find their way into the Andes.
If you have not read it yet, I invite you to read Cynthia’s article, A Universal Message for Three Kings Day, HERE. It is a precious gift.
Wishing you a January full of baking, playing, laughs, love and wisdom!