Thursday, December 8, 2011

RE-decorating: 3 Kings Mantel & a great tree

For some of you, this mantel may look unlike one you've ever seen before.  If so, I hope you will like it as much as I do.  My sister, Elsa, was kind enough to share some of her Christmas decorating this year with us for the blog.  Reba took photos of Elsa's tree and her mantel. As seen above,  Elsa displays the 3 Kings on her mantel. Oddly, I had forgotten this and before I had seen the pictures, I had mentioned to my husband recently that I really wanted to find 3 Kings to display on our mantel in our new home.  I was thinking about something with them in gold, sitting on camels with a star of some kind placed above them as in the Bible story or maybe as wooden silhouettes with a candle in front of them so their shadow is cast on the wall above the mantel? Elsa's Kings are figurines covered in sheer fabric lined with gold riff raff.  They are very formal and I think she's had them for awhile now.  Personally, I really like it when Christmas decorations reference the Christmas birth story.  To me, there is nothing more moving or dramatic in Christmas decor than something that can remind others of the amazing miracle of Christ's birth.   My family is Hispanic and Christian and for us, the 3 Kings are an important part of  the Christmas season.  Although Christmas Day itself is the big day for us, if you are from a Hispanic or Catholic culture, the day the Kings arrived, "El Dia de los Tres Reyes Magos" or "El Dia de los Reyes" feels like the end of Christmas. It is celebrated on the church celebration of The Epiphany around January 6th, which is the church's end of the Feast of Christmas.  For us and many other Hispanics, Epiphany is when the Christmas tree is taken down. That's right, we get to keep our tree up GUILT FREE until January 6th!
The 3 Kings have names.  The one with the darkest skin is Baltasar. I have always heard he brings the best gifts. FYI, for Mexican kids, much like Santa Claus, the 3 Kings may bring them gifts on The Epiphany as they did for the baby Jesus.   Since my family didn't do gift-giving as part of The Day of the Three Kings, I don't know if Baltasar brings the best gifts first hand.  LOL. The other two Kings are Gaspar and Melchor.   As seen here, the Kings almost always have gifts in their hands.  The Arrival of the 3 Kings is also often celebrated with a sweet cake/bread called "Rosca de Reyes" which is ring shaped and has a baby Jesus in it.  Whoever gets the piece with the Baby Jesus in it usually has to host the celebration the next year.  The up side is that it is also seen as a lucky sign that Jesus is especially blessing the person who receives the baby figurine.   My parents usually get a Rosca de Reyes cake as a gift from a friend or neighbor.  Much like Tamales, they are popular gifts for Christmas time in my hometown and very tasty. 
Another view of the mantel.

If you're curious, this is a good example of what the Rosca de Reyes might look like. It is ring shaped. Sometimes people decorate the center with fruit, a crown or tinsel. The designs and recipes are as varied as Christmas wreaths really.  The only thing consistent is the shape. However, they are usually distinguishable from King Cakes made for Mardi Gras because they do not generally feature the liturgical colors of purple, green & gold the way those cakes usually do. seems to have a pretty good recipe for a Rosca de Reyes. If you want one, you can find it HERE,
Elsa puts up a nativity set of the Holy Family on her piano with a Spanish shawl underneath as part of her living room display.  The Holy Family set was made by the same people who made her 3 Kings set.  She also puts up a large nativity set our mother gave her on the coffee table of her family room.   My sisters and I all really like nativity sets for Christmas decor.

Elsa called me to say she was thrilled with the tree her husband found her this year and after seeing the pictures I can see why.  It is a beautifully shaped, healthy tall tree.  It can be so hard to find a good natural tree sometimes and then so often they cost a fortune.  Elsa got really lucky this year. The tree is gorgeous and her ceilings are very tall so it is really great that the tree works with the scale of her room.   She bought more ribbon this year to add fullness to the tree decoration.  She ended up using 3 different types of ribbon, red, gold and red & gold.  And she needed really long rolls so they would do one side of the tree without any pasting/piecing together. She said a friend suggested Sam's Club and sure enough they had a great supply there of long ribbon that was much less expensive than Hobby Lobby, Michael's, Garden Ridge, Target, small paper invitation shops or any of the other places I recommended she search.  I think it is a beautiful tree and when I get to see it in person, I will probably supplement this entry with some close up shots because it so deserves more pictures. Hope you enjoyed it. 

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  1. Beautiful photos! I love your decorations! Thanks for sharing Joann And visiting!

  2. Jo,

    Thank you so much for your complimentary comment. It is very encouraging for us to receive feedback on our blog since we are so new to it. I will be sure to tell Elsa about your comment. Thank you for visiting.

    Happy Holidays!