January 6, or Three Kings Day, is a very special holiday for many Latinos and Hispanics around the world. How can you and your company join the celebration in a way that everyone feels included?
A little backstory to set the stage
Three Kings Day brings up memories from decades ago growing up in my maternal grandparents’ house in the mountains of Puerto Rico. I still remember that weeks before, I had to write a letter to “Los Reyes Magos” (The Three High Magi) to bring me presents. I could not write, neither could my Grandma, Mamines (short for Mami Ines, whose name I carry in mine), but my sisters would sit with me to write my letter.
On the eve of Three Kings Day, we would go outside with a shoebox to collect “pasto” or “yerba” for the camels. There was enough luscious greenery to choose from to collect the grass, but there wasn’t actually any grass anywhere, so we collected what we could from other plants. That night, we’d lay the shoebox filled with grass next to our bed, set our clothes for the next day, brushed our teeth and off to bed we went after saying our prayers.
The next day, the shoeboxes were gone and in their places, there were gifts wrapped in colorful Christmas paper. Little known fact: Puerto Rico has one of the longest holiday seasons on the planet. We’d tear apart the gift wrap and… a doll, or another doll, or a board game. We wouldn’t be disappointed. We were happy all day and got together with cousins or neighbors to compare what we all received and played with each other’s toys, of course!
Somewhere between then and now, those traditions have been less at the forefront. Especially with life and work demands. It is even more so with immigrant families who leave traditions behind to assimilate.
It should not have to be that way and I hope this post can help. If you’re a leader in an organization or company, there are ways to show your employees that you’re aware and respectful of this celebration. How? It’s not difficult. Here are three small ways you can bring memories back to your employees.
Numero Uno: Early dismissal, anyone?
This year, Three Kings Day falls on a Saturday. So, ahead of that and if your organization or business can afford it without too much of an impact to production, release your employees earlier from their scheduled shifts. Many Latino families still celebrate and having a couple of extra hours to prepare foods, do last minute shopping to help “The Three Kings”, prepare the house to welcome guests. No, you’re technically not celebrating so to speak, BUT they will appreciate you for being mindful of them. I promise.
Numero Dos: Celebrate with your employees
If this is the first time Three Kings Day is on your radar – wow, no judgement here, I promise! – you can start with something small. Let’s pretend you’re the leader of a wing in the local hospital or the ER, for example. Staff who are on duty beginning at midnight on January 6 through midnight of January 7, regardless of how many shifts, can be surprised with lunch being covered by bringing in catered food from a local Latino restaurant, for example. Same goes for any first responders (police and fire departments, EMTs, etc.) that might have extended shifts that day. Make an effort to put it on your calendar so in 2025 you can plan ahead earlier.
Numero Tres: Go ahead and celebrate BIG, if you can!
You can create your own Three Kings Day celebration at work by nominating three of your employees to play the role of Casper, Melchior and Balthasar for the day. Invite employees to bring their kids (anyone under 18 is a kid to me) to meet and take photos with the “Three Kings” and get a small gift.
Many local nonprofit organizations also do toy drives ahead of Three Kings Day to give to families who otherwise can’t afford to buy gifts for their kids. Times are tough for almost everyone. Call a local nonprofit and find out how to get involved. Tradition calls for three local men to dress up as one of the Magi – you can be one too – King or Queen! Especially now, many nonprofits have decided to include women in an effort to be more equitable and inclusive. Then invite your employees to register (if required by the nonprofit) and join you – even if you’re not playing the role of a Magi.
Any which way you choose to celebrate “Three Kings Day”, I suggest you start small and, again, make sure that in 2025, you have the whole barn ready to go!
In the meantime, from our Mejora Inc family to yours, we wish you a very abundant 2024 filled with joy, health, wealth, love and compassion, and a fantastic Three Kings Day!