(Photo by Gozalo Deniz)
In Argentina, on the 6th of January, the Christian Epiphany, which commemorates the visitation of the three wise men, or kings (Melchor, Gaspar and Balthazar) to baby Jesus is celebrated. The story says that the kings, who carried gifts of gold, incense and myrrh, followed the star of Bethlehem that would lead them to Jesus. Their visit represents the introduction of Christ to the world.
Just as the kings brought gifts to Jesus, it is believed by the local children that if they leave their shoes outside on the night of the 5th then the three kings will come by and leave presents for them too. It is also customary to leave grass and water out for their camels (which parents mischievously throw out during the night to make the illusion more believable). In the morning, children hurry to their shoes and open their gifts. In Spain, where the custom originated, children who had misbehaved would receive coal instead of presents.
(Photo by From Argentina With Love)
It is also customary to eat rosca de Reyes on this day, which symbolizes the crown on the three wise men’s head. The rosca de Reyes is a pastry, originally from Spain, filled with dry fruits and custard. In some countries it is customary to fill the rosca with small figurines of the Virgin Mary and baby Christ for the children to find.
A rosca recipe is available here.