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What Three Kings Day Means to Me


On Jan. 6, Three Kings Day, or Dia De Los Reyes, was celebrated around the world by several Latin American and Spanish-European cultures. The holiday has religious ties to Catholicism and Christianity; it commemorates the story of how the three wise men followed the Star of Bethlehem to the birthplace of Jesus, bringing along gold, frankincense and myrrh as gifts.

Growing up in Puerto Rico, Dia De Los Reyes was always a holiday I looked forward to. Like most holidays during this season, the time is spent celebrating with family and opening presents. I remember always feeling lucky to have what can be essentially compared to a second Christmas day. Even when I moved to Florida at the age of 9, my family continued to uphold the holiday tradition. While my classmates were leaving cookies and milk out for Santa, I was counting down the days until I could go outside with my older sister to rip out the grass from our front yard and put it in a shoe box (to feed the Wise Men’s camels, of course).

However, as the years passed by, the excitement surrounding the day began to dwindle. Since we moved to a place where Dia De Los Reyes is not a common holiday, my family could no longer participate how we used to. We stopped celebrating the holiday first thing in the morning because my family members either had work or school. As a result, those magical mornings were replaced by brief exchanges of gifts, followed by business as usual. We didn’t have any extended family in the state, so the celebration got significantly smaller. We no longer put out shoeboxes full of grass.

It is painful to admit that I let such an important part of my culture and by extension, my childhood fade into the background. I’m sure that many of those who have had to leave their home country in pursuit of better opportunities can relate to the feeling of sacrificing a portion of your heritage for the sake of assimilation. However, this exact sentiment is why I celebrate Dia De Los Reyes. Even though I cannot celebrate the holiday in the same way I did in Puerto Rico, maintaining the tradition alive from miles away helps me feel connected to my culture. While it certainly isn’t the same, I feel grateful for the sense of appreciation that I’ve gained. For me, Dia De Los Reyes has come to hold more meaning than just gifts and parties; it serves as a reminder of the rich, cultural roots I have and helps me reconnect with special memories from my childhood.

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