Tuesday, January 6, 2009
For many cultures and Catholic communities around the world, the Christmas season is not complete until Epiphany or Twelfth Night, when tradition says the three kings, or wise men, came with gifts for the newborn Jesus.
In fact, Jan. 6 used to be the day when gifts were exchanged and children opened presents ---- before Santa Claus took over the holiday. Even today, in Spain, children put out shoes stuffed with hay for the Three Kings' camels, so the wise men will leave gifts in exchange for the hay. And in Mexico, children still write letters to the wise men, sending the notes up in a party balloon on the evening before Epiphany, when gifts are found on their beds the next morning.