What is Three Kings Day (Día de los Reyes) and how to celebrate in the DC area

This year, Three Kings Day falls on Saturday, January 6, 2024

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The holiday season hasn't ended just yet.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, Three Kings Day or Día de Los Reyes is celebrated.

What is Three Kings Day?

Three Kings Day (Día de Los Reyes) or the Feast of Epiphany is a holiday that commemorates the day the three wise men — Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar — arrived with gifts for baby Jesus.

When is Three Kings Day?

Three Kings Day or Epiphany is celebrated by Roman Catholics on Jan. 6, as the culmination of the 12 days of Christmas.

Although the birth of Jesus is celebrated on Christmas Day, the three Kings didn't actually reach him until twelve days later—which is why Three Kings Day is celebrated on the 12th day of Christmas.

Orthodox Christian faiths celebrate Epiphany on Jan. 19.

The symbolism behind the Magi's gifts

"The Three Kings" or the "wise men" or the "Magi" followed a star to Bethlehem to show their adoration for baby Jesus.

The Bible says a bright star led the magi from the east until it stopped “over the place where the child was,” and “upon entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother” (Matthew 1:24).

They presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Gold has always represented wealth and power. It symbolized Christ's royal status as King of the Jews. Frankincense, a type of incense and perfume, represented His divinity and identity as the Son of God. Myrrh, an anointing oil and embalming fluid, referred to Jesus' mortality.

What countries celebrate Three Kings Day?

Día de Los Reyes is celebrated in Spanish-speaking countries like Mexico and Spain in addition to other countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, France, Poland, and by some Latinos in the United States, especially Puerto Rico.

How is it celebrated?

Popular traditions during the holiday include gift-giving, large feasts, and indulging in King Cake or Rosca de Reyes.

King Cake is most often associated with Mardi Gras but is also eaten in honor of Epiphany. Louisiana-style king cakes consist of a cakey bread dough twisted into a ring and decorated with icing and colored purple, green and yellow sprinkles.

Rosca de Reyes is a special bread with fruit and sugar that comes in the shape of an oval to represent a crown. Candied figs and cherries symbolize the crown jewels.

Inside both variations of cake, a baby Jesus doll is hidden.

Whoever finds the doll is believed to receive good luck but must also host a party on Candlemas (February 2nd) or host next year's celebration.

Similar to stockings at Christmas, many children leave out their shoes the night before for the wise men to leave candies and toys in. 

And like the tradition of leaving cookies and milk for Santa, children will pick grass or hay and leave water for the camels to eat and drink.

Three Kings Day parades also take place around the world from New York City to Madrid and Uruguay.

How is it celebrated in D.C.?

A Three Kings Day parade (Fiesta de los Reyes Magos) is hapening right here in D.C. at the GALA Hispanic Theatre on Jan. 7 at 2 p.m.

A procession of the Kings and live animals will make their way around the block with a street parade, local musicians and dance troupes. Free gifts will be given out to children.

Tickets are available on the day of the event at the box office between 12:45 and 1:30 p.m. A maximum of four tickets is allowed per family (1 adult for every 3 children). The event is free.

Where can I buy Rosca de Reyes in the DMV?

Cocolita Food

Chef Carla of Cocolita Food is offering her traditional Rosca de Reyes adorned with white chocolate wise men for pickup at the National Union Building in D.C.

💲 Price: $30 when ordering through Instagram or WhatsApp (571-228-4890). $35 when you order through Shef.

📍 Address: 918 F St NW, Washington, D.C.

Panaderia Mi Pueblo

This traditional Mexican bakery in Alexandria will offer Rosca de Reyes from Jan. 4 through Jan. 10.

To pre-order, call (703) 746-8697 or walk in for same-day pick-up. It is cash only but an ATM is available.

💲 Price: $37

📍 Address: 8401 Richmond Hwy. Suite F Alexandria, Virginia

Cinco de Mayo Bakery & Taqueria

This bakery and restaurant in Glen Burnie will offer Rosca de Reyes in small, medium and large sizes. They come packaged in a festive red box and will be available from Jan. 3 through Jan. 6 or 7.

Cost: The small is $25, medium is $35 and the large is $45.

📍 Address: 445 N. Crain Hwy Glen Burnie, Maryland

Where can I buy King Cake?

Bayou Bakery

This local bakery in Arlington will begin selling their King Cakes on Jan. 6. As a bonus, cakes will include Mardi Gras beads and a card explaining the history behind the tradition.

Place your pre-order by Jan. 4 by calling (703) 243-2410.

💲 Cost: $50 plus tax.

📍 Address: 1515 N. Courthouse Road Arlington, Virginia

Best Buns

With locations in Shirlington, Springfield and Tysons, you can pre-order your king cake now! Best Buns requires at least 48-hour advance notice and King Cakes are only available for pick-up on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

💲 Cost: $32.32

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