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Celebrate! It's Dia De Los Reyes Magos

January 05, 2002|By MARIO RENTERIA, Staff Writer

Christmas and New Year's celebrations have come and gone. Santa Claus has again delivered gifts to families across the world.

But the celebration of the baby Jesus' birth isn't over.

Today is what many people know as Dia De Los Reyes Magos, or Day of the Three Wise Kings. The proper name, however, is the Epiphany.

On this day 2002 years ago, three wise men, Melchor, Gaspar and Baltazar, visited the newborn baby Jesus to give him gold, frankincense and myrrh. The three men came to be known as the Three Wise Men or Three Kings. Their story differs from culture to culture. It is uncertain where they were from but it is believed they came from the Middle East.

They were thought to be powerful, intelligent and possibly kings. It is believed these three men were highly cultural and spiritual with a great knowledge of man and nature and with a strong interest in contacting God.

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It also is believed the three men were guided by a bright star to Belen, where Jesus was born.

Before Jesus was born, pagans in the Middle East celebrated solstice around this time of year. Solstice is a celebration of the sun. Between 120 A.D. and 140 A.D. Gnostics attempted to Christianize the solstice celebration into the celebration of Jesus' birth and called it "Epiphany."

In the fourth century A.D., Epiphany started spreading along with Christmas.

Through generations the celebration of Jesus' birth came to have many names and different methods of celebrations. In some cultures it is normal to give children gifts.

In the Latin culture it is customary to eat "Rosca de Reyes" or Bread of the Kings. The large, oval-shaped bread contains at least three baby figures.

The rosca is cut into large slices and whoever picks the slices with baby figures must host a celebration Feb. 3.

The people who select slices with babies are to provide something for the party, such as the site, food or entertainment. Some people may request more figurines be placed in the rosca.

Berta Jimenez, owner of Las Conchitas Bakery in El Centro, said one woman requested 13 figures in a rosca.

"We've already had many orders," she said of roscas.

She said the request for roscas is so strong the bakery must take orders ahead of time. Roscas range in price from $15 to $25.

>> Staff Writer Mario RenterĂ­a can be reached at 337-3435.

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