So Club Taino Puertorriqueño will hold its 19th annual Three Kings Day celebration and fundraiser on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at L’Ambiance Banquet Hall, 5237 Renwyck Dr., Toledo. Doors will open at 6 p.m., with dinner to start at 6:30 p.m. and a dance beginning at 8 p.m.
“Club Taino gets great support from the community for this event-- it is one-of-a-kind in Toledo,” said Ms. González. “We usually have a full house. Attendees are treated to a wonderful, traditional Puerto Rican holiday dinner that includes arroz con gandules, pernil (roasted pork), and sweets. Additionally, we raise funds for scholarships given at our traditional Constitution Day picnic in July.”
Music will be provided by Sammy De León and his salsa/orquestra band. According to Ms. González, has accompanied large acts such as La India, Marc Anthony, and Tito Puentes, among others.
“Sammy is a great percussion player and his genre includes salsa, merengue, bachata, and aquinaldos, our traditional holiday music,” she said.
Tickets are $30 per person and $50 per couple. Students ages 12 to 17 are admitted for $10 but must be accompanied by an adult. Children under 12 are free in observance of the gift-giving tradition of Three Kings Day. RSVPs are requested via email to [email protected].
“The main purpose is to teach and share the tradition of the Three Kings as we celebrate it in Puerto Rico-- especially to the children,” said Ms. González. “They learn the meaning of the Three Kings and how they relate to the birth of baby Jesús through a play.”
The Three Kings, or Wise Men, are a rich and important part of Puerto Rican culture and customs, mainly because of the Biblical background, a much more spiritual and faithful representation of the birth of Christ than the legend of Santa Claus.
Three Kings Day, which is also known as Epiphany in other parts of the world, is one of the most important holidays on the Puerto Rican calendar. The eve of January 6 is traditionally used as the day to exchange presents rather than Christmas. Children would gather grass, hay or straw, then put them in shoe boxes stashed under their bed for the Magi's horses or camels. Many children place a “wish list” on top of the grass. In some Latin American cultures, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and friends also would encourage children to do the same for underneath their beds-- just in case.
The Reyes only come if the child has been good all year. They will bypass the house if the kids are awake. Many children sleep lightly, listening for any strange noises or signs-- camel hooves, whispers, or anything else that tells of the Kings' arrival.
Sometime during the night, Los Reyes arrive and leave their gifts for the children, while their camels or horses enjoy their snack. Good children may be rewarded with small toys and candy. Bad kids would end up with charcoal or even dirt.
That is where the eve of Three Kings Day dovetails toward the more US-Americanized notion of stockings hung by the fireplace, leaving cookies and milk for Santa Claus, and the endless anticipation of kids on Christmas Eve. Santa rewards good children and punishes bad kids in much the same way.
Beyond traditional holiday celebrations, the Three Kings are a mainstay of Puerto Rican arts and crafts, one of the most popular subjects for handmade figurines of saints and other religious figures. Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar are even represented on table centerpieces that day.
Editor’s Note: Mexican tradition holds that the holiday is celebrated by baking “Rosca de Reyes” (King's Bread), which has an oval shape to symbolize a crown and has a small doll inside which represents baby Jesús. The doll figure symbolizes the hiding of the infant Jesús from King Herod’s troops. Traditionally roscas are adorned with dried and candied fruits to symbolize the many jewels that a crown would have. A Rosca de Reyes event was held January 4th at Iglesia San Gabriel, 8118 W. Vernor St., Detroit, at 11 a.m.
In some households, the person whose slice of bread has the figurine must prepare tamales for everyone and must host a party on “Día de la Candelaria” (Day of the Candles) in February.