Carta a Los Reyes Magos: Free Printable and Activities

Carta a Los Reyes Magos: Free Printable and Activities

Inside: Printable Carta a Los Reyes Magos, and resources for teaching about Los Tres Reyes.

While children in the U.S. and other countries are busy writing to Santa, other children are addressing their letters to Los Reyes Magos: the three wisemen who visited baby Jesus. They’ll leave their shoes out, along with straw and water, and wake up the next morning expecting a gift. Where is this tradition from, and what does it involve?

 

Los Reyes Magos

 

The story of three kings visiting the Christ child stretches back 2,000 years. According to the gospel of Matthew, several Magi from the East made the journey to bring the newborn king three royal gifts– gold, frankincense, and myrrh– following a strange star that had appeared in the sky. 

Since then, Western Church tradition has recorded them as Balthasar (king of Arabia), Melchior (king of Persia), and Gaspar (king of India). Catholic traditions such as those in Spain use these names, though Syrian and Eastern churches record other names.

 

Reyes Magos

 

Many Christians celebrate Los Reyes Magos on Epiphany, the twelfth day of Christmas, which falls on January 6th. Many families in the Spanish-speaking world leave their Christmas tree up until Epiphany, and have the tradition of children receiving gifts that day. January 5th is a day of parades, in which the Three Kings are reenacted as the Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos, throwing sweets to people watching in the streets.

In many places, children write letters to the Tres Reyes Magos in anticipation of Epiphany. The night of January 5th, they leave their shoes by the fireplace, doors, or windows. Many families leave food for the Magi, as well as straw and water for the camels, or a box of greens. During the night, the Magi will travel the world and leave gifts. When kids wake up in the morning, they find presents (sometimes wrapped, sometimes candy or money) where they left their shoes. Sometimes they also find that the food has been nibbled at, or even disappeared!

 

Roscón de Reyes

 

In some parts of the world (including Spain and Mexico), families eat a ring-shaped cake with candied fruit on top, and sometimes cream in the middle. The fruit represents the jewels from the Reyes Magos, and inside are two hidden objects: a faba bean, and figurine (in some parts, it’s a king, or Magi, in others it’s a different figure). The person who find the figurine in their slice gets crowned king or queen of the day. The unlucky person who gets the bean has to pay for the roscón!

Roscón de Reyes

 

 

Activities for Los Reyes Magos

 

To learn more about the traditions surrounding the Reyes Magos, I’ve got a round-up of resources below, to help you teach about them in the classroom or at home.

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support!

 

Books About Día de Los Reyes

 

Here are some suggestions for learning about the Reyes Magos through picture books in Spanish. Remember that if you are working with Spanish learners and the text is too advanced, you can do a “book talk”– simply narrating the text in more comprehensible language. 

Cartas
a Los Reyes Magos

 

If you’d like to write a letter to the Reyes Magos, I’ve got some fun templates for different ages and learners. They include editable versions, so you can adjust to the proficiency levels of your students. Click here or on the image to download the set!

If you have students who can learn about religion in the context of culture, but feel uncomfortable “participating” in a religious holiday with something like a letter, the set includes a more neutral reflection on the past year for older students. 

Carta a Los Reyes Magos

Crafts and Ideas

 

Preschool/Elementary:

 

Make Paper Shoes for Three Kings’ Day from Mundo de Pepita

Slideshare Presentation on Los Reyes Magos

Mini-Bundle on The Three Kings in Spanish from Monarca Language

 

Middle/High School:

 

Video and Text on Los Reyes Magos from Si Quieres Aprender

 

Intermediate Article in Spanish about Los Tres Reyes Magos from Veinte Mundos

Presentation, Games, and Activities Based on Reyes Magos Video from Elena Lopez

Cultural Activities: El Día de los Reyes Magos reading and game from the Comprehensible Classroom

Reading Activities Using Tweets about Los Reyes Magos from For the Love of Spanish

 
 
Sudoku on Día de Reyes from Comprendes Mendez SpanishShop
 

Infographs

 

Try this adorable and comprehensible infograph from Mundo de Pepita, perfect for a younger crowd, or these options:

Credit: Horacero

Credit: Notimex

Videos

 

Here are some videos that show different traditions and the story behind the Magi, for different ages and proficiency levels.

 

Cute & quick silent video showing a children leaving his shoes out:

 

Dora salva el día de los Reyes Magos:

 

Comprehensible news clip on Los Tres Reyes (heads up that one of the kings uses blackface to represent one king–this is a controversial practice that people are now bringing attention to, and I would at least discuss it):

 

News clip on Día de Los Reyes, with lots of interviews with kids:

 

Spanish family explains the differences between celebrations in the US and Spain:

 

Video showing a family’s preparations in Puerto Rico:

 

How Julie from Mundo de Pepita introduces Los Reyes Magos to her elementary students:

 

“La Otra Carta,” a sweet commercial about kids writing letters to the three kings:

 

Traditional song “Llegaron Ya Los Reyes Tres” with traditional Andean Music:

Welcome

Hey! I’m Elisabeth, a teacher and mom raising two bilingual kids in the Peruvian jungle. Read our story here. I love digging up the best Spanish resources for all you busy parents and teachers!

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Spanish New Year’s Activities: A Collection for the Classroom

Spanish New Year’s Activities: A Collection for the Classroom

Inside: Spanish New Year’s activities, and links. 

 
Coming back to school after the winter break can be rough. Create a lesson or two around New Year’s traditions, and you can kick off the new semester with fun activities centered on Latino culture. 
 
As explored in my New Year’s in Spanish post, there are a ton of good-luck rituals in the Hispanic world. From wearing the right underwear to stuffing down 12 grapes a midnight, there’s a little bit of everything! And there’s plenty of interesting traditions to capture your students’ attention. 
 
Or consider a real-world task like making resolutions and/or wishes. There are plenty of #authres to make these sorts of activities even more meaningful. 
 
Below, I’ve gathered all kinds of resources, so there should be something for everyone. Enjoy!

Spanish New Year’s Activities

Lesson Ideas

 

  • Prepare a list of famous characters/people/celebrities. Then, write up one or more resolutions for each person. Show the list of people to the class, and read the resolutions out loud, while the students try to guess whose it is.

 

 

  • Use this AMAZING resource from Maris Hawkins to read “horoscopes” or predictions about the new year, according to birthdays. 

     

  • Make New Year’s resolutions! Perhaps begin with a funny story about someone who has high hopes for the new year and sets intense goals, and then what actually happens Jan 1. OR go the inspirational route about someone who truly does turn over a new leaf (the Grinch, maybe). Then at the end of the story, students come up with their own resolutions. 
  • Make 12 wishes for the New Year, and write each one in a grape. (Following the tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight, and making a wish for each one eaten.) This is an output-heavy activity, so it might be best to brainstorm and give options for the students to choose from, or use for a more advanced class and then discuss.

 

  • For younger students, prepare “grapes” with a wish for the New Year written down. After talking about each wish, have the students pick just one wish for the next year. Then vote for favorites and do a graph to see what the most popular wish is!

 

  • Research superstitions to bring good luck on New Year’s, and compare them between countries/cultures.

 

  • Have students choose one word for the New Year, as explained here.

 

Carta a Los Reyes Magos

 

Free TpT Resources

 

 

  • Metas para el año nuevo from La Clase de Señora Dufault. Use this cute download if you are doing resolutions with younger students. 

 

  • Teach the song Vivir mi vida to prep for writing resolutions (lots of voy a… reps), with this free activity sheet. 

 

Infographs

 

costumbres latinas del año nuevo

 

Credit: Cinismoilustrado

 

Credit: TICs y formación

Credit: Hábitos

 

 

 


Credit: Cinismo Ilustrado

 

Credit: El Blog de Sarai Llamas

Songs

 

 

Videos

 

Costumbres para el año nuevo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Los reyes magos

 

 

 

Welcome

Hey! I’m Elisabeth, a teacher and mom raising two bilingual kids in the Peruvian jungle. Read our story here. I love digging up the best Spanish resources for all you busy parents and teachers!

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New Year’s in Spanish: Latino Traditions for Good Luck

New Year’s in Spanish: Latino Traditions for Good Luck

Inside: A round-up of traditions for New Year’s in Spanish.

 

When it comes to Hispanic New Year’s traditions, it’s all about bringing on the good luck. In most places, the partying begins on New Year’s Eve among family or friends, and most of the rituals take place at or around midnight. Then, the fiesta continues into the wee hours of the morning (along with plenty of fireworks to ring in the new year).

 

año nuevo

New Year’s in Spanish: 10 Good-Luck Traditions

 

As you’ll see, most of these traditions have to do with ways to make wishes for the year to come. Some of them are for the day of New Year’s Eve, and some must occur right at midnight. Read on to learn about these fascinating rituals across the Spanish-speaking world!

 

1.  Eating 12 Grapes at Midnight

 

año nuevo uvas

Many people eat 12 grapes as the clock strikes midnight, making a wish for each grape eaten. They must be eaten quickly (as the bell tolls, or in the first minutes of the new year), which is quite the task as Spanish grapes have large seeds. This tradition originated in Spain, though Mexico and other Latin American countries do this one as well. Read more about origins of the lucky green grapes of Spain here.

 

2. Wearing Yellow Underwear

 

yellow underwear new year's eve

 

Believe it or not, this is a very strong superstition! The color yellow represents good luck in many Hispanic countries, so many people sport yellow underwear as the new year rings in. In many countries, yellow or white is the color of choice for clothing on New Year’s; while red underwear means romance awaits.

 

3. Walking Around the Block with Suitcases

 

 

For this one, people walk around the block or the house with a suitcase for traveling opportunities in the New Year. Perhaps after stuffing down grapes, lentils, and champagne, you grab the piece of luggage right after midnight and get moving.

 

4. Burning Muñecos

 

new year's in ecuador

 

In Ecuador and other places, people set up effigies (muñecos) after Christmas, and burn them for año nuevo. In some places, the doll is a generic form meant to represent the old year and burned as a way to say good-bye to the past. In other places, the effigies represent unpopular political figures, celebrities, or leaders.

 

5. Eating Lentils

 

 

At least in Chile, some people eat lentils right as the new year comes in, to usher in prosperity. Others eat it as a midday meal, saying that the round lentils resemble coins.

 

6. Holding Money at Midnight

 

 

Some people want to have money or coins (some insist on silver) in hand, as midnight strikes. This is also supposed to be good luck for a prosperous new year.

 

7. Drinking Champagne

 

 

As in many places, champagne is the drink of choice when welcoming the new year. The Latino twist is to drop a gold ring into your champagne glass, to bring in money. Fruit like strawberries or cherries is said to bring new love, or fidelity by a gold ring. Some say you must drink the entire glass and pull the object out, or it won’t work.

 

8. Cleaning the House

 

 

Cleaning the house thoroughly is an expression of “out with the old, in with the new.” Similar to burning muñecos, it symbolizes getting rid of the old year’s energies and welcoming in the next one, hopefully with good energy. Some people even put on only new clothes, to avoid bringing the past into the next year.

 

9. Throwing Water Out the Window

 

 

This is another ritual of throwing out the bad things from the past year, and starting the new year fresh. Some say that if the water falls on someone you don’t care for, bad luck will fall on them.

 

10. Standing on One Foot

 

latino new year traditions

 

Literally, this is a way to start the year “on the right foot.” As the clock strikes midnight– perhaps while stuffing down grapes– stand on your right foot!

Image credits:
Shutterstock / Sergarck
Shutterstock / Fotos593

What New Year’s in Spanish traditions did I miss? Let me know in the comments below.

 

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costumbres latinas del año nuevo

new year traditions in spanish speaking countries

 

Welcome

Hey! I’m Elisabeth, a teacher and mom raising two bilingual kids in the Peruvian jungle. Read our story here. I love digging up the best Spanish resources for all you busy parents and teachers!

Spanish Mama Newsletter

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Latin Christmas Songs: Your Essential Spanish Playlist

Latin Christmas Songs: Your Essential Spanish Playlist

Inside: Latin Christmas songs playlist to celebrate with family and friends. 

 

Whether you like to turn on the Christmas songs in October or you prefer to wait for December, there’s nothing to bring on Navidad nostalgia like music. I grew up listening to classic English carols and the likes of Frank Sinatra, but I’ve expanded the repertoire since marrying my Peruvian husband. Now there’s twice as much festivity, with a little more cha-cha-cha thrown in. 

Also: see Christmas Songs for Kids and Free Winter Holiday Cards in Spanish.

 

Latin Christmas Songs Playlist

This list is a mix of original Spanish songs, villancicos, and ones that are familiar to English speakers as well. Some are religious and some aren’t; some are old classics and some are recent covers. (If you’re a teacher and are looking for a non-Christmas song, skip to the end for a great Latin Hanukkah song.) Below are my top picks from YouTube, or you can turn on my Spotify playlist. 

Grab a mug a of chocolate and curl up for some Christmas cheer!

 

1. Mi burrito sabanero (Juanes)

 

It’s really not a Latin playlist without this classic. And Juanes nails it!

 

2. Los Peces en el Río (Pandora)

 

This is an original Spanish song that you’ll hear again and again during the Christmas season. 

 

3. Feliz Navidad (Michael Bublé y Thalia)

 

Obviously, Feliz Navidad. Thanks to this song, basically everybody knows how to say Christmas in Spanish. I adore the version by Michael Bublé and Thalia!

 

4. Hacia Belén Va Una Burra Rin Rin (Gaby Moreno)

 

Gaby Moreno’s entire Posadas album is excellent, but I choose this one because it was new to me, and captures that mix of Latin rhythm and advent-feel. 

 

5. Blanca Navidad (Matisse ft. Arthur Hanlon)

 

Here’s a fresh cover of Blanca Navidad that will get your toes tapping. Try the version by Andrea Bocelli if you love a more classic sound. 

 

6. Campanas de Navidad (Celia Cruz)

 

Throwback to older days of salsa-inspired music with this song by Celia Cruz. 

 

7. Noche de paz (Laura Pausini)

 

Beautiful, of course, from Laura Pausini (I like the Matisse cover as well). 

 

8. Campana Sobre Campana (Pandora)

 

It’s hard to beat Pandora’s version of Campana Sobre Campana. 

 

9. Ven a mi casa esta Navidad (Luis Aguile)

 

Luis Aguile’s Ven a mi casa esta Navidad is a must-listen-to and sure to bring back memories. 

 

10. Allá en el pesebre (Aliento ft. Majo Solis)

 

Beautiful, reverent cover of the traditional carol Away in a Manger (villancico). Listen to this one on Christmas eve. 

 

11. El Niño de Tambor/ El Tamborilero (Pandora)

 

There are tons of great options for this songs (Don Omar has a good cover), but this version is classic. 

 

12. Canción para la Navidad (José Luis Perales)

 

 

13. Adestes fideles (Andrea Bocellia)

 

To end on a more majestic note, O Come Let Us Adore Him in Spanish is a beautiful song. 

 

15. Ocho Kandelikas – Latin Hanukkah Remix

 

To round out the holidays, here’s a great version of Ocho Kandelikas, in honor of Hanukkah.

 

Hope you enjoyed my picks for essential Latin Christmas Songs! What did I miss on your playlist? Let me know in the comments below.

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Spanish Christmas Songs

Welcome

Hey! I’m Elisabeth, a teacher and mom raising two bilingual kids in the Peruvian jungle. Read our story here. I love digging up the best Spanish resources for all you busy parents and teachers!

Spanish Mama Newsletter

Books in Spanish for kids

songs in Spanish

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