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Magi rule over Santa Claus

Across the country sleepless young children sprint out of bed on Christmas morning anticipating the presents the legendary Santa Claus left them.

In effort to please Santa, children leave out cookies and milk. The jolly old elf then lays out presents for goods kids and lumps of coal for those that have been bad.

Rather than awaiting St. Nick, kids in Latin America watch for the midnight arrival of the three Magi.

Traditionally in Latin American, Three Kings Day, celebrated on Jan. 6, was the gift-giving season rather than Christmas Day.

?We would do this every year in South America for small children,? Beatriz Foth, Spanish teacher, said. ?All my Spanish classes will be participating.?

Also known as the Epiphany, Three Kings Day [Dia de los Reyes Magos] is a Christian celebration that commemorates the Biblical story of the three kings who followed the star of Bethlehem to bring gifts to the Christ child.

Three Kings Day is celebrated twelve days after Christmas because it is often viewed as the last day of the Christmas season.

?It will be interesting to celebrate,? Ann Hawkins, ?07, said. ?This is something new to learn about.?

According to the Biblical story, the three kings named Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar presented the Baby Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

As a tradition, a small doll, representing Baby Jesus, is baked into a special Rosca or sweet bread is baked and eaten on Jan. 6. The figure symbolizes the hiding of the child from Herod?s army.

Just as it is common for children to leave cookies for Santa in the U.S., in some regions of Latin American it is customary for children to leave their shoes out the night before.

The children often fill the shoes with hay for the camels, in hopes that the three Kings would be generous. Latin-American children would awake to find their shoes with toys and gifts.

?As part of the Three Kings Day students are required to bring small gifts to my Spanish classes,? Foth said. ?Three boys were picked in each class to be the Magi and distribute the gifts to the shoes lying out.?

Overall, students believe this experience was beneficial to better understand different cultures by living it out.

?I think this was a good experience,? Dustin Enochs, ?08, said. ?It gave us perspective that there is a different way of celebrating Christmas.?

For more information regarding Three Kings Day email Foth at [email protected] or go online to www.surf-mexico.com.

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