For many Hispanic and Latino families in the Philadelphia area, the holiday season lasts until Sunday — the 12th day of Christmas known as Día de los Reyes Magos — the Feast of the Epiphany or Three Kings’ Day.
“We like to maintain this tradition, because it’s part of our upbringing and keeps the family together,” said Aida Devine, membership and operations specialist at Taller Puertorriqueño, a Latino cultural center in Fairhill.
The celebration — where families exchange gifts, have dinner, and dance to live music — marks the visit of three kings, also referred to as Magi or Three Wise Men, to baby Jesus.
Based on the Gospel of Matthew, church traditions suggest that the men — Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar — traveled across a desert for 12 days to present the new baby with three gifts.
“This tradition is celebrated in lots of European countries, too, so it’s an open invitation to everyone that encourages our children to keep their traditions, while others learn about it,” said Carmen Rodríguez, a Camden County freeholder.
There are celebrations planned across South Jersey and Philadelphia all weekend:
3 to 5 p.m., at Taller Puertorriqueño, 2600 N. Fifth St. Children can hear the story in Spanish and English of the Three Kings and receive a gift, which will be followed by a parade along Fifth Street to Lehigh Avenue. The cultural center will also host live music with local musicians. Organizers are still accepting toy donations for the children at Taller Puertorriqueño. Free.
3 to 6 p.m., at Camden’s Kroc Center, 1865 Harrison Ave. The Camden County Office of Hispanic Affairs and Community Development will host musicians Trio Renacer performing the traditional Christmas music called villancicos. Food will be served and kids younger than 12 will receive gifts. Free.
9:30 a.m. until noon, at Our Lady Star of the Sea church, 15 N. California Ave., Atlantic City. The Hispanic Alliance of Atlantic County will celebrate Latino culture during its Three Kings celebration with toys for children 12 and younger. Organizers are still accepting toy donations. Free.
From noon to 2 p.m., at Egg Harbor City Hall, 500 London Ave. The Latino Club of Egg Harbor City will give toys to kids 12 and younger. Later, from 5 to 8 p.m., the club will host “dinner with the Three Kings” at Local 331 Union Hall, 1 Philadelphia Ave., Egg Harbor City. Adults: $15; children between 5 and 12, $5.
8 p.m., Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine St. Salsa Caliente: Three Kings Day 2019 is for skilled and novice dancers who want to practice their salsa steps. The event starts with a cabaret-style lesson in the dance hall, and a live band performance by Wanda Rivera y su Orquesta at 9:15 p.m. General admission costs $20.