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Kings For A Day

With “Three Kings Day” the Christmas season officially came to a close in JP's Latin Quarter, where children and their families in the Hyde Square Task Force’s after-school program commemorated the Feast of the Epiphany.

Though by now the kids may have tired of their toys and you’ve already cast the dehydrated Christmas tree on the curb, for some in Jamaica Plain and around the world, especially in Spain and Latin America, the holidays are a 12-day celebration that concludes on Three Kings Day, or El Día de los
Reyes. 


On Thursday evening, while the tree in Jamaica Plain’s Latin Quarter still burned brightly and houses in the surrounding neighborhood glowed with holiday lights, the Cheverus Building in Hyde Square was crowded with children and their families who had come to celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany.

Sponsored by , the event was presented by the Youth Literacy Theater troupe of the , an after-school literacy program for children from the and the South Street Youth Center.  

Three Kings Day is derived from a Bible story. According to Wikipedia, “In Spanish tradition on Jan. 6, three of the Kings: Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthazar, representing Europe, Arabia, and Africa, arrived on horse, camel and elephant, bringing respectively gold, frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus.”

“We bring books to life,” said troupe coordinator Matt Gelman, who noted that the festivities were three months in the making.

The event began with a play written and performed by program participants that adapted the story of the Magi for modern times.

“The literacy program has a new focus on theater,” said the Task Force's Karen Boss.

Subsequently, there was a crafts period where the children, who had come up with the activities themselves, decorated cookies and made chalices, jewelry and paper crowns.

When Patch asked the actors who played the three Kings what they liked best about the celebration, 17-year old Karina Arias of Jamaica Plain replied, "The kids have fun and run around.”

Magnificent magi, 17-year old Brian Nuñez of JP, answered, “As a little kid I looked forward to Three Kings Day.  I like that in the Bible story Jesus is the one who gets presents.”  

“It’s good being able to give something back to the community,” said elegantly attired Roslindale resident Jensi Baez, 16, a Task Force youth worker.

Crowned with the headdresses that they had made, the eager children, all kings for a day, then received gifts that were distributed by the Three Kings, concluding the event and officially ending the Christmas season in JP.

The presents, numbering 100 toys, said Boss, were provided with money raised by individual donors, most of whom live in Jamaica Plain.

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