After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. ”In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
” ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’”
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. – Matthew 2:1-12 (NIV)
Every year in Puerto Rico, as well as other Latin countries, including Mexico, there is a special celebration on January 6th. The morning after the end of the Twelfth Night after Christmas Day is Three Kings Day or El Dia de los Tres Reyes.
On the eve of El Dia de los Tres Reyes, January 5th, children cut grass or greenery and place it in a box under their bed for the camels to eat (similar to the tradition of leaving Christmas cookies for Santa). The grass is replaced by gifts from the Three Kings. The Three Kings only come if the children have been good all year, and if the children are awake, they will carry on to another house.
This day, often called the Feast of the Epiphany, is considered the day in which the Three Kings, Melchior, Gaspar and Baltazar, arrived bearing gifts for the Christ child. It is also traditionally the day Puerto Rican children receive their Christmas gifts in commemoration of the Three Kings’ visit—rather than from Santa Clause on Christmas. Some say there may have been many more visitors to see Christ when he was born, but however many they were, the “Three” Kings were significant because they were not from Israel but rather from far off lands, signifying that Jesus came to heal the world, all nations and peoples.