The three kings were named Melchior, Kaspar, and Balthasar. When Jesus was born, they came to Bethlehem to see the baby Jesus and arrived when he was twelve days old. They brought gifts. Children in Mexico believe the “magi” or wise men bring them gifts on this day as well.
Mexican children leave their shoes on the outside step or balcony the night of January 5. They also remember to leave water and hay for the camels that have brought the kings on their journey. The next morning, the hay and water have disappeared, and the shoes are filled with small clay toys, candies, and fruit. Special cakes, called “Roscas de Reyes,” are baked in the shape of a crown. There are also usually little surprises baked inside, such as coins or little dolls. The lucky person who receives a gift inside the cake must prepare the party and cake for the following year.
Celebrated in Christian churches as the Epiphany, Mexican children may reenact the journey of the magi, usually with three boys depicting the kings.