Leaving the Lights up for Día de Los Reyes

Normally, I clear out all Christmas decorations immediately after the holiday. That dry-as-bones fir tree is on the curb for recycling at the first possible opportunity; the house gets a good tidying; holiday remnants are economically boxed and stowed for next season.


House in Austin with Christmas lights on eaves and "JOY" letters.

Usually, I’m welcoming in the new year with nary a holiday bauble in sight.

But this season, I haven’t been able to bring myself to take down the outdoor lights. They’re the best part of the glee—all shine and glow, transforming gray days and early evenings into something warm and special. I love coming down our street in the dark and seeing the house magically lit up, a multicolored beacon of love. And this December, I needed to feel the love.

Bare tree with large Christmas lights, like the Charlie Brown tree.
Our “Charlie Brown Tree” is my favorite.

Evidently, I needed to feel that glow-y love in January, too. Hubby was all about taking down those outdoor decorations last weekend, but I resisted.

Give me a little bit more time, I wheedled as we took an evening walk; let’s wait until this next Saturday, I cajoled.

With the presidential inauguration looming like a hulking Death Star, I wanted to squeeze every last ray of hope-filled, positive shine from those twinkling bulbs. Call it an artificial lightening of the spirit.

Recently, I learned there’s a good reason to extend our outdoor display: Día de Los Reyes.

Which is celebrated today, January 6.

Talk about some divine intervention….

What is El Día de los Reyes Magos?

Christmas lights on eaves against a gray sky.

It hadn’t been my imagination that our East Austin neighbors were keeping holiday lights up longer—and even adding a few more in the days following Christmas. Día de los Reyes celebrates Melchor, Gaspar, and Baltazar (Los Tres Reyes Magos) who brought gifts to the baby Jesus. In Mexico and other Latin American countries and cultures, figures of the Wise Men are added to nativities on Jan. 5 when children put their shoes by the door, often with a bit of hay inside for hungry camels. By the morning of Jan. 6, presents have replaced the hay and culinary celebrations include a sweetbread treat called Rosca de Reyes (Wreath of Kings). Much like “King Cakes” at Mardi Gras, a tiny toy baby Jesus is baked inside –and the lucky finder hosts a party on Feb. 2 for Día de los Candelaria, or Candlemas.

Traditional Día de los Reyes foods also include Mexican hot chocolate and tamales. Yum.

This all means there’s a good reason to extend the holidays, so I’m glad my lights are still up. And it looks like I’ve found a few new traditions to help celebrate next season.

In ATX, here are a few of the places where you’ll find traditional Día de los Reyes items:

Rosca de Reyes  La Mexicana Bakery , Mi Tradicion

Mexican Hot Chocolate  Mi Madre’s

Tamales  Mellizoz Tacos , El Chilito, Rosie’s Tamale House (and for those of us long-time Austinites, we’ll just be sad for a moment that legendary Green & White Grocery no longer sells tamales)


White lights decorating an agave plant.
This is a tricky plant on which to drape icicle lights, as you might imagine.
New Year Fireworks in Austin, TX at midnight.
At midnight on Dec. 31, we watched these beautiful fireworks across Lady Bird Lake with good friends, welcoming in 2017.  Happy New Year from ATX! 


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Published by Leah Nyfeler

I'm a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I've come to learn it. In addition to my blog "Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life" at www.leahruns100.com, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

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