KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Mary Ann Rodríguez is celebrating Three Kings Day for the first time with her first grandchild.
“We have a granddaughter, she was born in June, and I want her to start learning the traditions and I know she can’t remember, but she’ll see the pictures of her first Three Kings Day,” said Rodríguez, who was born in New York City and lived in Puerto Rico as a child. “When I moved here, it was hard for me, after celebrating it for so many years, to get out of that tradition besides I wanted my children to have that part of their tradition of their heritage in celebrating the Three Kings.”
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She recalled learning about the Three Kings Day celebration when she was 6 years old. The annual tradition is celebrated every Jan. 6 among Hispanics and Latinos.
“Since I grew up in Puerto Rico, in Puerto Rico you don’t work, you don’t go to school; it’s part of the tradition,” she said.
A tradition that’s brought Mary Ann to collect more than 30 sets of the Three Kings. Each year, she places them all around her home in Kissimmee.
“I’m enchanted by them. When I was small and little, my grandma had the traditional wood ones on the horse that she would exhibit,” she said. “When you really go back and look at the Christmas story, the wise men are the ones mentioned in the whole story of the Nativity, so beside having that religious connotation because they were there they gave them the gold, the myrrh, the incense so it has the religious part but also the tradition part, something that is part of who we are.”
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The Three Kings are part of the biblical story. It’s about Balthasar, Gaspar and Melchior — known as the three wise men who traveled to Bethlehem to pay homage to baby Jesus. It’s a day Osceola County embraces with a family event in old town Kissimmee.
“We have free hotdogs and free popcorn, we’ll be raffling bikes and tablets,” said John Newstreet, the president and CEO of the Osceola Chamber. “By bringing all these folks out, hopefully the businesses here will get a big shot in the arm to start the year.”
It’s been 19 years since Osceola County began bringing together local leaders, elected officials and organizations to put on the event where kids get to take pictures with the Three Kings.
“So, we have four core values at the Osceola Chamber, one of those is to embrace heritage and my wife’s from Venezuela and so it’s a tradition there in Venezuela and so we’re trying to raise our daughter to make sure she understands you know some of her cultural background and upbringing,” Newstreet said. “This is one way to help bring that alive to help understand a little bit of where she is here in America and where she’s come from and how it all comes together.”
The event is on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Click here for more information.
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