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.
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.
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?
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:
Mexican Hot Chocolate Mi Madre’s