Home Argentina Argentina’s tradition of Three Kings… and their thirsty camels

Argentina’s tradition of Three Kings… and their thirsty camels

by Shelly Rivoli
Placing their shoes by the door reminds the Kings how many children live there.
Today, Travels with Baby Traditions takes us to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where the children are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Three Kings next week… and their camels. Sharing this Central and South American tradition with us is Argentine native, Alejandra Vicco, who owns and operates Bebeba Baby Equipment Rentals in Buenos Aires.
In Argentina, and throughout Latin America, on the 6th of January children celebrate “Los Tres Reyes Magos,” known in English as The Three Wise Men or Three Kings. This is a tradition that has been passed down by the Spanish immigrants since their arrival in Central America and on the South American continent. As the familiar story goes, the Three Kings followed a star to meet the new King of Kings (Baby Jesus) and offered three presents: gold, frankincense and myrrh, to the newborn child born in Belén (Bethlehem). 
When December comes, all the boys and girls in Spain and Latin America start to write their letters to the Three Kings or to their favorite King: Melchor, Gaspar or Baltasar. They write about the things they’d like to receive on the morning of the 6th of January, (which is the day the presents get delivered) and also about their behavior during the year. If they’ve been good, they get presents; if they’ve been bad, they get a piece of coal.
Their Majesties travel by camel and, due to the fact that they come from the East, they take a long time to arrive. Once here, they visit all the cities and villages and, after a spectacular parade, listen to the kids’ requests. On the night of the 5th, the kids put their shoes by the door before going to bed so that the Kings will know how many children live there. They also put out something to eat and drink for Melchor, Gaspar, and Baltasar, and also water and grass for the camels (true, they can last a month or more without drinking water, but that night they have a lot of work to do, so they need extra water and food).
On the morning of the 6th, children find their presents inside and outside the shoes (it’s very unusual for their Majesties to bring carbones (coal) because no child really behaves so badly, and many people say it’s not true that naughty girls and boys get only coal and no toys). The food and drink placed on the plates and in glasses are gone. The children start playing with their toys, and excitedly await for the next 5th of January to come around.

Thanks so much to Alejandra for sharing this fun South American tradition with us! And for any of you planning travel to Buenos Aires with your young child, check out her gear rentals and remember you don’t have to lug it all with you!  Next week we’ll globe trot to another famed city where the children are also looking forward to (hopefully) treats from a very different visitor!

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