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January 6 around the world

If you feel sad at the idea of taking down the Christmas tree, storing away all the ornaments and decorations and seeing you home once again in its non-festive attire… wait!

The holiday season might be over where you live but somewhere in the world it’s not, yet.

Why don’t tell your kids about traditions in other countries and have your own, new and private celebration before saying goodbye to the holiday season?

You could “fly” to Argentina where January 6 is called the day of Kings “Día de Reyes” and commemorated the arrival of the Magi bringing their presents to Baby Jesus. The night of January 5, the children put their shoes by the door and leave grass and water for the camels; in the morning of January 6 they will get a present.

spainAlso in Spain children leave their shoes out the night of January 5, waiting for the Three Kings. In many towns colorful parades representing the arrival of the Reyes Magos are arranged, so children can see them in their camels or carriages before they go to bed. Sweet wine, nibbles, fruit and milk are left for the Kings and the camels. In Spain, children typically receive presents on this day, rather than on Christmas and if they misbehaved during the year, they will receive coal which is usually a lump of sugar candy dyed black.

If you happen to love France or you are studying it with your children, you may want to know that on January 6 people share a king cake; in the north of France and in Belgium it is called galette des Rois, a golden cake make with flake pastry and filled with frangipane (an almond flavored filling) while in the south region and in Provence it is called gâteau des Rois, a crown shaped cake filled with fruit. Both types of cake contain a fève which was traditionally a bean but nowadays it’s a plastic or porcelain figurine. The cake must be cut by the youngest person at the table; the person who gets the piece of cake containing the fève will be king or queen for the day! If you want to try one of these cakes, here’s a recipe for the galette des rois.

galette_01

Did you know that in Ireland January 6 is also called Women’s Christmas? It is so called because of the Irish men taking on all the household duties for the day. Most women hold parties or go out to celebrate the day with their friends, sisters, mothers, and aunts. Children often buy presents for their mothers and grandmothers.
Tell your husband that you suddenly remember of your Irish origins and go out and party! 🙂
calzeIn Italy January 6 is the day of the “Befana”; the Befana is an old woman riding her broomstick. She brings gifts to children during the night between January 5 and 6. Before going to bed children leave some wine and cookies on the table for the Befana and they will also leave their socks to be filled with small presents, sweets and sometimes even coal (black hard candy). Nowadays right after Christmas supermarkets start selling Befana stockings already filled with candy and sweets and little gadgets but in my family we rather fill old socks with chocolate, candy, nougat, nuts and spend the day eating candy and taking down the tree and decorations.

What about your traditions? When is the last day of the holiday season? When do you take down the Christmas tree?