How Three Kings’ Day is Celebrated Around the World
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Christmas spans 12 days beginning with Christmas Day, but for many countries with a strong Christian heritage, Christmas Day is just the beginning of a celebration that wraps up on January 6 with Three Kings Day or The Epiphany.
Over the weekend, cities around the world celebrated The Epiphany with traditions that span centuries. The Epiphany, which used to be a more a significant religious holiday than Christmas day until the 19th century, celebrates the three Kings (or three wise men) who visited baby Jesus shortly after his birth in Bethlehem. Festivities for the ancient Feast Day are celebrated in unique ways across the globe from swimming in icy waters to retrieve a cross to parades, presents, King Cake and even children smoking cigarettes.
Spain celebrates with parades throughout the country, some of which have been going on since the 19th century. The parades represent the journey made by the Magi, or the Three Kings. Riders on the floats throw candy to the parade-goers. Children bring umbrellas and turn them upside down to catch the loot thrown from the parade.
Epiphany parades in Spain as Christians celebrate the three kings’ visit to the baby Jesus. https://t.co/oprYMcfbrq
— AP Europe (@AP_Europe) January 5, 2018
Bulgaria celebrates The Epiphany by swimming in the icy waters of the nearest sea, river or lake. A priest throws a wooden cross into a body of water and young men compete to be the first to retrieve the cross. Since the tempertarure is typically near freezing during this time of year, the act is considered honorable and the man who retrieves it first will have good health bestowed upon his home for the year.
Bulgarian men dance in the waters of the Tundzha river during a celebration to commemorate Epiphany Day in Kalofer, Bulgaria on Jan. 6. (VCG/Stoyan Nenov) pic.twitter.com/23taLmSK4K
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) January 6, 2018
Greece celebrates The Epiphany similarly to Bulgaria where the festivities kick off with a blessing of the waters. From there, their celebrations are similar to Bulgaria’s where men jump in icy waters to retrieve the blessed cross.
— AFP Photo (@AFPphoto) January 6, 2018
In addition to receiving gifts on Christmas, Mexican children also get presents on January 6, from the Three Kings. Cities and towns celebrate with large parades that have tons of food and gift vendors. Mexicans typically eat the country’s version of King Cake, Rosca de Reyes, on The Epiphany.
Some 250,000 people turned out in Mexico City’s giant plaza to munch their way through a 1.44 kilometer long, 9.375 tonnes traditional “Rosca de Reyes” cake as part of the capital’s traditional Epiphany eve feast pic.twitter.com/j5sPGa6p4v
— AFP news agency (@AFP) January 6, 2018
January 6 marks King’s Day in the Catholic-influenced city. This day also marks the beginning of Carnival with parades like Joan of Arc. It also marks the beginning of King Cakes popping up around the city.
— WWOZ 90.7 FM (@wwoz_neworleans) January 5, 2018
One Portuguese village has a tradition unlike any others to celebrate The Epiphany — smoke cigarettes. And that goes for everyone in the village even those as young as five years old. The tradition is centuries-old but no one is sure what it symbolizes or why parents’ buy their underage children cigarettes to smoke on this Holy day.
— Yahoo News (@YahooNews) January 8, 2018
This is a huge event for Puerto Rico with parades and festivals across the country. San Juan, the country’s capital, throws an annual festival with live music, food and drink and free gifts for children. The highlight of the festival occurs when the Three Kings march into the town’s center.
“Y he aquí la estrella que habían visto en el oriente iba delante de ellos, hasta que llegando, se detuvo sobre donde estaba el niño…” pic.twitter.com/erhqXRs2EK
— Reynaldo R. Alegría (@ReynaldoAlegria) January 5, 2018
Featured image by iStock/Getty images.
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