Similar to others in Latin America, Guatemalans celebrate Dia de los Tres Reyes (Day of the Three Kings). It is widely believed that this is the day when the three wise men visited and delivered their gifts to baby Jesus. Dia de los Tres Reyes is also known as the Epiphany.
Our Nacimiento (nativity) remains out past Christmas. On the eve of Dia de los Tres Reyes, we say a prayer around the crèche. All of the kids participate, so somberness gives way to giggles and a celebratory feeling. Because we have recently had Christmas, the kids do not put their shoes out for gifts, as is the traditional custom. Instead, they give to other children.
On Dia de los Tres Reyes, we invite friends in and have a traditional Guatemalan Merienda de Reyes, the meal of the three kings. The meal concludes with hot chocolate and Rosca de Reyes, the colorful red and green sugar and candied fruit decorated oval cake , with the hidden plastic baby Jesus (the figure symbolizes Jesus being hidden from King Herrod’s men), purchased at one of the local mercados. My kids eat more than the traditionally allotted single piece of the yummy cake in an attempt to get the baby Jesus. For some reason we had two last year. Whoever finds the baby Jesus is expected to host the Candelaria (Candlemas) in the coming weeks. I also make a tres leches cake or cupcakes.