How Three Kings’ Day is Celebrated Around the World

Jan 8, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Christmas spans 12 days beginning with Christmas Day, but for many countries with a strong Christian heritage, Christmas Day is just the beginning of a celebration that wraps up on January 6 with Three Kings Day or The Epiphany.

Over the weekend, cities around the world celebrated The Epiphany with traditions that span centuries. The Epiphany, which used to be a more a significant religious holiday than Christmas day until the 19th century, celebrates the three Kings (or three wise men) who visited baby Jesus shortly after his birth in Bethlehem. Festivities for the ancient Feast Day are celebrated in unique ways across the globe from swimming in icy waters to retrieve a cross to parades, presents, King Cake and even children smoking cigarettes.

Spain

Spain celebrates with parades throughout the country, some of which have been going on since the 19th century. The parades represent the journey made by the Magi, or the Three Kings. Riders on the floats throw candy to the parade-goers. Children bring umbrellas and turn them upside down to catch the loot thrown from the parade.

Bulgaria

Bulgaria celebrates The Epiphany by swimming in the icy waters of the nearest sea, river or lake. A priest throws a wooden cross into a body of water and young men compete to be the first to retrieve the cross. Since the tempertarure is typically near freezing during this time of year, the act is considered honorable and the man who retrieves it first will have good health bestowed upon his home for the year.

Greece

Greece celebrates The Epiphany similarly to Bulgaria where the festivities kick off with a blessing of the waters. From there, their celebrations are similar to Bulgaria’s where men jump in icy waters to retrieve the blessed cross.

Mexico

In addition to receiving gifts on Christmas, Mexican children also get presents on January 6, from the Three Kings. Cities and towns celebrate with large parades that have tons of food and gift vendors. Mexicans typically eat the country’s version of King Cake, Rosca de Reyes, on The Epiphany.

New Orleans

January 6 marks King’s Day in the Catholic-influenced city. This day also marks the beginning of Carnival with parades like Joan of Arc. It also marks the beginning of King Cakes popping up around the city.

Portugal

One Portuguese village has a tradition unlike any others to celebrate The Epiphany — smoke cigarettes. And that goes for everyone in the village even those as young as five years old. The tradition is centuries-old but no one is sure what it symbolizes or why parents’ buy their underage children cigarettes to smoke on this Holy day.

Puerto Rico

This is a huge event for Puerto Rico with parades and festivals across the country. San Juan, the country’s capital, throws an annual festival with live music, food and drink and free gifts for children. The highlight of the festival occurs when the Three Kings march into the town’s center.

Gobernador @ricardorossello regálele amor a los niños de Puerto Rico el Día de Reyes. Hoy es un buen día para el #VetoLeyMenores

Featured image by iStock/Getty images. 

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.