Christmas never ends in Puerto Rico. Or so it seems, when it’s January 5th, and the anticipation is building for yet another highlight of the most wonderful time of the year: Three Kings’ Day!
Much like Christmas Day, Three Kings’ Day is an official holiday in Puerto Rico. On January 5th, like on December 24th, instead of leaving milk & cookies for Santa Claus (which we also do in Puerto Rico), kids leave shoeboxes filled with grass. Before you think “huh?!,” it’s for the Three Kings’ camels, as they travel to bring gold, myrrh and frankincense to baby Jesus. Along their journey, they stop to bring gifts to the little boys and girls who believe (and leave grass-filled shoeboxes.)
I loved this tradition as a little Latina girl, growing up in Puerto Rico. One special place I visited with my parents, sister and brother was “La Lomita de Los Vientos” (the little hill of the winds). It felt surreal to stand on that same lomita, but this time, I’m the parent bringing my kids. Crazy!
Across from the San Juan city Capitol building (which looked beautiful and Christmasy),
This photo opp near the entrance says “Let’s celebrate our traditions at the little hill of the winds.” That’s exactly what we were doing! Tradition!! (For some reason, I heard that in my mind in the style of Fiddler on the Roof! Ha!)
Seriously, I was giddy like a little kid, almost skipping up the lomita, Periscoping everything, while my husband reminded me that I should be enjoying the experience, not just “live broadcasting” it on Periscope for no one. I reminded him that I had over 100 viewers, but he had a point.
As we neared the first stop on the lomita, my daughter exclaimed, “Mom! His head is MOVING!” She was referring to the Angel Gabriel right in front of us. It turned out that they had living Manger scenes, and special moments from the story of Jesus’ birth, recreated by actors as you climbed up the hill.
By the time we got to see the living Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus (and the Three Kings, of course), I looked up and saw the Capitol right across from la lomita. That’s when I got a little teary-eyed.
In a time when there is so much manger and Christmas symbolism removal from government buildings, it was refreshing and inspiring to see freedom of religion ringing loud and clear in the capital city of San Juan, Puerto Rico. My island. What a blessing.
It definitely felt like a blessing to be able to pass on my favorite and most meaningful traditions and beliefs to my kids in such a wonderful way.