Winter Holidays Around the World: Three Kings Day

What does Three Kings Day Commemorate?

Three Kings Day also known as Epiphany, Twelfth Night, or Little Christmas is a festival that recalls three Biblical events - the visit of the Wise Men in Bethlehem, the baptism of Jesus, and the Miracle at Cana where Jesus performed his first miracle of turning water into wine.


In Mexico, a sweet bread called Rosca de Reyes is baked in the shape of a ring to resemble a crown, with a baby figurine hidden within the bread.  The figurine represents the need to hide the baby Jesus from King Herold.

In Spain, a special cake called Roscon, which is either filled with cream or chocolate, is decorated with a paper crown. In Catalonia is known as Tortell or Gateau des Rois and is filled with marzipan. A figure of a king and a dried bean is hidden in the cake.  The person who finds the king gets to wear the crown, but the person who finds the bean pays for the cake.

In France, a flat almond cake called Galette des Rois is baked with a toy crown inside and decorated with a paper crown.

Warsaw Poland

When and where is it celebrated?

January 6th

Three Kings day is celebrated in Spain, Latin America, and the Caribbean but it is also celebrated by many Christians around the world as Epiphany.

How is it celebrated?

In many countries, it is a day of gifts.  In England, it marks the end of the Christmas holidays.  In the Eastern Church, the waters are blessed on this day. 

The celebration begins on the evening before with parades of floats and people in costumes.

In Portugal, carols are called Janeiras (January songs).  On the Island of Maderia, they are called Cantar os Reis, which means singing to the kings.

In Italy, children believe their presents are put in their stockings by an old lady named Befana.

Befana in Italy


Austria and Germany have traditions where some people will write a special sign over their front door.

Children in Belgium and Poland go door to door singing songs.