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Latinos hold onto their cherished Latino holiday, El Día de los Reyes Magos

By Ingrid Marie Rivera, La Prensa Correspondent

They may be setting grass and water instead of cookies and milk but the excitement is the same.

On Jan. 5, 2010, Latino children left boxes full of grass for the wise men’s camels under their beds, and eagerly waited for the next day’s unwrapping of gifts, on Jan. 6, known as the Three Kings Day.

Ingrid Marie Rivera

Known also as the Epiphany, the day is just as important as Christmas in México, Puerto Rico, Spain and many other Latin American countries, but Latinos in the United States also continue to strongly hold onto the tradition.

El Día de los Reyes Magos is a Christian holiday that celebrates when the wise men, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, visited the baby Jesús.

Latino families in the United States are celebrating the Latino tradition within their homes, churches and other organizations in hopes of preserving their culture.

Victoria Acosta, 62, her husband and their seven-year-old grandson, have been living in the United States for four years. Acosta said she works hard to keep the holiday tradition, even though she has migrated to a country that does not celebrate it.

It becomes even more crucial to retain the tradition because the boy’s mother lives far away from him – still on the island, she said. “It’s a beautiful tradition,” that should be preserved, Acosta said.

And they have done just that.

Acosta, her husband, and grandson prepare for the arrival of the three wise men every Jan. 5.

The Puerto Rican couple of Lorain place water and spread grass for the kings’ camels throughout the hallways of their home and in the room of their seven-year-old grandson. Under the boy’s bed, the family places a box full of grass for the camels. He awakes the next day to unwrap toys now in place of the grass.

Children from some Latino countries receive gifts on that day instead of Christmas, while others receive gifts on both.

Not only did Acosta’s grandson receive gifts on both days but also on Sunday, Jan. 3, when they attended Lorain’s Sacred Heart Chapel’s Three Kings Day celebration.

Children reenacted the biblical story of the wise men in a play, received gifts provided by other members of the church, and even played with a piñata.

“My grandson received a Batman figure on Sunday and he was so happy,” Acosta said.

But the Three Kings Day festivities are not over.

La Sagrada Familia Parish, at 7719 Detroit Avenue, in Cleveland, within the Hall de Parroquia, will have a “Baile de Reyes” or “King’s Dance,” Jan.9, 2010 from 7p.m. Until 1 a.m. Musical guests include Toño Rivera y Sus Latinos, El Trovador – Rubén Delgado Jr with el D.J. Manny, and Isla del Encanto folkloric dance group. Costs are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. For more information, contact them at (216) 631-6817.

In Toledo, Club Taino hosts a Three Kings Day Celebration on Jan. 9, 2010 at Mi Hacienda Restaurant, at 3302 Glanzman Road. Dinner will be served at 7 to 9p.m. and the dance runs from 10 p.m. to 2a.m. Cost is $10 for adults, Children under 10 are free. Three Kings will bear gifts for the children. Reserve your spot with María González at (419) 385-1150.

In Detroit, a Three Kings Day Celebration on Jan. 6, 2010 at Holy Redeemer Church, Salón Azul, 1721 Junction Street, starting at 6p.m., with free admission.






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