Sunday is the Día de los Reyes Magos, the Three Wise Men. In a number of Spanish-speaking countries, including Spain itself, this is a big day for the youngsters. The Wise Men bring the gifts. The day is celebrated here mainly by Mexicans, Spanish, Puerto Ricans and even some Italians.
Costa Rican youngsters will not reject small gifts to mark the day.
Some Spanish youngsters even write letters to the Three Kings respectfully listing the presents they seek. In some communities
the kings come in a cart to distribute presents.
Even if they do not celebrate the Día de los Reyes Magos, religious Costa Ricans cannot just take down the household nativity scene and pack it away for next year. There is a procedure to be followed.
The procedure is called rezo del Niño, a celebration of the birth of Christ with prayer, singing and the obligatory snacks and other goodies.
Spanish-language classifieds now contain advertisements of musical groups that will offer a rezo del Niño. Most have other specialties during the year, like karaoke, weddings and the occasional birthday. But right after Christmas, they prepare a rezo show.
Usually there is a moderator who leads the group in prayers. He or she may also be a singer who joins with the musical group for traditional religious songs.
The correct time for this is after Jan. 6, which also is Epiphany. The cutoff is around Feb. 2.
Not just households participate. Both the Costa Rican Tennis Club and the Costa Rican Country Club will have their rezos del Niño. So will the Museo Nacional and other government offices.
There even are special cakes and dishes to be served after the prayers following a rezo del Niño. And perhaps a bit of 4 percent rompope.
For expats a rezo del Niño is a great way to meet the neighbors and participate in community life. Even if the Spanish-language prayers are foreign, the repetition makes them easy to learn. And all ages are invited, from tots to great grandparents.