Celebrating Three Kings’ Day the Puerto Rican Way

One of the most festive holidays of the year in Puerto Rico is Three Kings’ Day, which falls on January 6 every year. On the island, this holiday is celebrated with even more elaborate pageantry than Christmas. But, if you don’t live in Puerto Rico, you may be wondering what, exactly, Three Kings’ Day is, and what the celebration is all about.

Three Kings’ Day, also known as Epiphany or Dia de los Reyes Magos, is a celebration of the three kings who brought gifts to Jesus when he was born. For most people in Puerto Rico, preparations for Three Kings Day begin as soon as Christmas ends. Unlike much of the United States, many Puerto Rican families do not exchange gifts on Christmas Day, but rather wait until Three Kings Day.

Traditionally, the days leading up to Three Kings Day are full of festivity and celebration. Families host parties where people all over the neighborhood come in and out visiting. As the evening progresses, people join each other in caroling (known as parrandas) around the neighborhood, stopping from one house to another and gathering more people each time. This caroling differs from the Currier & Ives style, though – it is very lively, and usually involves a variety of instruments, drinks and food!

Food, Festivities & Traditions of the Day

On the eve of Three Kings Day (known as Vispera de Reyes) children leave out candy and small gifts for the kings, and a box of straw for their camels. In exchange, the children are given gifts by the Three Kings that evening. (However, in our family we still got to open our presents on Christmas – our parents didn’t make us wait, happily!)

In the early evening of Vispera de Reyes, most families attend a religious service where the story of the Nativity is acted out by local people. Many times, there are costumes available for anyone who shows up and wants to take part in the pageant. Afterward, it is a time of feasting. Traditional foods include roast pork and coquito, an eggnog-like drink that features cream of coconut, coconut milk, and of course, Puerto Rican rum!

After families return home, the children leave out their gifts for the Magi and their camels, and go to bed to await the presents they bring. On the actual Dia de los Reyes Magos, there is much festivity, with parades, pageants, festivals and family gatherings. Old San Juan is especially lively, the streets filled with people and parades, as they play host to the final stop of the “Three Kings” of Juana Diaz – reenactors who travel the island during the week between Christmas and Three Kings Day.

Celebrating Dia de los Reyes Magos at Maria’s

As a child, I loved celebrating Dia de los Reyes Magos in Rincón with my family. Why not make it a tradition for your family, too? There really is no place like Puerto Rico during the Nativity season, and Maria’s Beach will offer you the perfect backdrop for an island winter holiday. Our booking is done through Twin Palms, Maria’s rental and onsite management. Please visit our booking page on this website to view the availability of Maria’s and fill out our convenient contact form. If you have any additional questions regarding Maria’s, you may call Twin Palms at 787-685-6648 (español: 787-233-9815).