dusk near Cuernavaca

dusk near Cuernavaca

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Something I Didn't Know

Of course, I know that January 6th is celebrated throughout the Spanish-speaking world as "el Día de los Reyes Magos" (the Day of the Magi Kings)... the day which we know as Epiphany or the Twelfth Night.  According to tradition this is the day when the three wise men arrived in Bethlehem bearing gifts for the baby Jesus.  On the morning  of January 6th children wake up to discover gifts that have been delivered by the Magi during the night.  (In Mexico, where the cultural influence of the United States is so strong, children also receive gifts at Christmas from Santa Claus.)

Last night I was talking with my friend Alejandro on the phone, and we were discussing what his little nephew was going to receive from the three kings.  He told me about an aspect of the celebration that I did not know. 

Children in Mexico write letters to the Magi, just as children up here write letters to Santa Claus.  Then, prior to January 6th, the letters are attached to helium balloons and set lose to drift to the sky.  (Balloon vendors are a common sight in the parks and plazas of Mexico, but at this time of year they are even more ubiquitous.)  Obviously, what goes up, must come down, and you will frequently see deflated balloons tangled in the electrical wires throughout the city,  Parents explain that those were the balloons of children who have been naughty and who will not receive a gift from the Kings.

I am not sure if this is a custom unique to Mexico City, or if it occurs throughout the country.  Perhaps my readers from other parts of Mexico can tell me how widespread this custom is.

To all of my readers, best wishes for a very happy New Year!!!


  1. Cute story; I haven't heard this either.

    1. I've been in Mexico City on "Día de los Reyes", and this was new to me!

  2. Interesting story, especially that bit about the undelivered letters. I've also been in DF during Día de los Reyes Magos, but haven't seen any of this. Next time I'll have to keep my eyes peeled.

    Saludos y feliz Año Nuevo, y que sea lleno de bendiciones y alegría.

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we just spent our most "grown-up" New Year's Eve ever, dinner with friends, in bed before midnight. Haha...geezerdom beckons.

    1. I was discussing this a bit more with Alejandro last night. He said that it is a fairly recent custom, and that he doesn't know if it is common outside of D.F. Back when he was a child, the letter to the kings would be placed with his shoes the night before.
      Te deseo un Año Nuevo lleno de mucha felicidad.
      Un fuerte abrazo,