Three Kings' Day Parade
On Friday, January 6, 2006 , El Museo del Barrio offers the 29th Annual Three Kings' Day Parade and Theatre Program to local residents and all of New York City . This festive, cultural holiday is observed in Puerto Rico , the greater Caribbean , Latin America , and throughout the United States . El Museo's dynamic parade, led by the Three Kings, winds through the streets of El Barrio and includes lively music, colorful costumes, as well as an educational theatre program for students following the parade. The theatre performance will include an informative demonstration of the cuatro and aguinaldos (carols), as well as the origin of the Three Kings' Day celebration.
Thus in the Western church, the feast of Christmas was established before that of Epiphany. Over time the West decided to celebrate Christmas on December 25. The East continued to treat January 6 as the day marking Jesus's birth. This has given rise in the west to the notion of a twelve-day festival, starting on December 25, and ending on January 6, called the twelve days of Christmas, although some Christian cultures — especially those of Latin America — extend it to forty days, ending on Candlemas, or February 2 (known as Candelaria in Spanish).
In Spain, Mexico, Cuba and some Latin American countries Epiphany day is called El DÃa de los Reyes (The Day of the Kings). The day when the Three Kings or Three Magi of the Bible arrived to worship and bring gifts to the baby Jesus after following a star in the heavens. This day is sometimes known as the DÃa de los Tres Reyes Magos (The day of the Three Magi) or La Pascua de los Negros (Holy Day of the Blackmen) in Chile, although the latter is hardly said. In Spanish tradition, on the day of January 6th, the Kings: Melchor, Gaspar, and Baltazar, representing Europe, Arabia, and Africa, arrived on horse, camel and elephant, bringing respectively gold, frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus.
6 January 1983, New York Times, pg. B2:
Today is el Dia de Los Reyes, the Day of the Three Kings, celebrated by New Yorkers carrying on the traditions of a Latin American heritage against the local cultural pressures of Christmas Eve giving.
In East Harlem, camels, sheep and llamas hired by the Museo del Barrio will clomp up Third Avenue at 104th Street beginning at 10:30 A.M., along with children dressed as angels, shepherds and Virgin Marys. The annual parade, in its sixth year, commemorates the day the wise men arrived in Bethlehem with their gifts for the Christ child.