Three Kings Festival Is Tonight

Posted On January 5, 2007

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For many people, Christmas is the holiday to spend time with friends and family, receive gifts and eat lots of food, but for the hispanic community, the day for celebration is January 6, Three Kings Day.

Today at 7 p.m., Joint Neighborhood Project, along with Immanuel Lutheran Church, will hold their annual Three Kings Festival to honor the day the three wise men brought gifts to Jesus. JNP uses the church to conduct the short service, spoken once in English by Pastor Greg Hager and then again in Spanish by Pastor Al Pagan.

‘‘It’s a big event,’’ said Pat Perlee, JNP executive director. ‘‘Especially for hispanic culture.’’

Following the service, open to the public, everyone is invited to the fellowship hall for refreshments and see the three kings. The three wise men will then hand out gifts to the children.

‘‘We’re trying to keep it educational this year,’’ Ms. Perlee said. ‘‘The children will receive books, pencils and family board games they can play with their parents.’’

Three Kings Day falls on the 12th day of Christmas, or Epiphany. It is also sometimes referred to as ‘‘The Adoration of the Magi’’ or the ‘‘Manifestation of God’’. According to old legends based on the Bible story, the names of the three wise men are Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar and they saw a star on the night Christ was born. They followed the star to Bethlehem and gave gifts to the child.

January 6 also marks the day that the Christmas tree usually comes down and in some cultures burned on a bonfire. In some cultures the children are also given sweets, like chocolate, wrapped in foil. The history of Christmas is intertwined with that of Epiphany. The commemoration of the Baptism, also called the Day of Lights or Illumination of Jesus, was also known as the birthday of Jesus. This was because he was believed to have been born then of the Virgin or reborn in baptism. Sometimes, Christmas and Epiphany were referred to as the first and second nativity.

The Three Kings Festival, 7 p.m. tonight at the Immanuel Lutheran Church.