Also known as the “Feast of the Epiphany,” the holiday marks the arrival of the Three Wise Men, or magi, who followed a star for 12 days across the desert to give gifts to baby Jesus. Three Kings Day is particularly celebrated in Latin American communities.
Last Tuesday at the Corona Community Library, more than 100 young kids and their parents filled the children’s room for a celebratory event. They were treated to snacks, holiday gifts and even a song by Congressman Joseph Crowley.
Crowley, whose office helped organize the annual gathering, said Three Kings Day is a tradition not only honored by the Hispanic community, but even his own family.
“I was familiar with the Three Kings growing up,” he said. “When my mother would put out the creche, the Three Kings didn’t come until after Jesus was born.
“Especially here in this community, we want to make sure we touch as many young lives as we possibly can with the gifts,” Crowley added, “and that they understand there are people thinking of them.”
Three Kings Day is typically celebrated 12 days after Christmas, or January 6. Just as how children usually leave milk and cookies out for Santa Claus on Christmas, kids are encouraged to leave grass, water and their shoes out in front of their door for the magi.
Newly elected Councilman Francisco Moya, who co-hosted the event, said for Latino households, Three Kings Day is the “biggest holiday you can have.” Growing up, he said there were not many public celebrations in his community.
“We did it at home with my cousins and aunts and other friends,” he said. “I’m really glad that we’ve been able to bring this to the level where it’s not just Latinos, it’s everyone coming together and understanding the significance of what the Three Kings means to us.”
It’s especially important for young children, Moya said, for whom the tradition may be lost when families assimilate. He sees events like the one on Tuesday night as a way to keep those traditions alive.
“As the community has changed, as the Latino population has grown, this event becomes bigger and bigger each year,” Moya said. “For me, it’s about giving back to the community.
“It’s carrying on a tradition that I grew up with as a child,” he added. “Having this open up for so many kids in this area is a great thing we’ll keep doing for many years to come.”
At the event, some parents held up signs that asked for a larger library space in Corona. Though not as large in size as nearby Flushing or Elmhurst branches, the Corona library has a high usage per square foot.
Moya said he grew up going to the Corona branch, so he understands the need for expansion. Crowley also expressed support to make libraries bigger, better, more inclusive and accessible.
“There are a number of places that are experiencing overcrowding,” he said. “That’s a good thing, because it shows they’re being used and they’re appreciated. We’re happy about that as well.”