Dia de los Reyes

How Dia de los Reyes traditions vary between countries…and best Rosca recipe!

Dia de los Reyes, or Three Kings Day, is a Latino and Hispanic holiday that takes place on January 6th, also known as the Epiphany. 

The history behind the day honors the Three Wise Men and the biblical story of how they traveled for twelve days to give gifts to baby Jesus. The three Kings, named Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar followed a star across the desert to deliver symbolic gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 

For many, the holiday is known as a “second Christmas” and traditionally it is the day when Hispanic households exchange gifts, concluding the Christmas holiday festivities. 

Originally, Christmas was celebrated for more than just one day, with the holiday spanning twelve days following December 25th and concluding on January 6th. You may be familiar with the holiday song The Twelve Days of Christmas. This song describes those twelve days, when many would traditionally give gifts throughout the long holiday, concluding with the Epiphany where the most gifts were given. 

For Latino and Hispanic households, the Epiphany is celebrated with just as much spirit as others celebrate Christmas on December 25th. While the tradition originated in Spain, many Latin American countries have adapted those traditions with their own twists and cultural inspiration. 

Dia de los Reyes traditions by country 

Depending on where you’re from, Dia de los Reyes traditions may vary, but one aspect that remains the same is gift-giving. Similar to Christmas traditions, children anticipate the arrival of the Three Kings like others anticipate Santa Claus and in the morning children wake to find gifts. 

In countries such as Puerto Rico, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay, the celebration starts on January 5th with Víspera de Reyes, or Three Kings Eve, where children collect grass or hay in a box, as a gift for the camels. Instead of leaving out milk and cookies for Santa and carrots for reindeer, Hispanic and Latino children leave out their old shoes along with their gift to the camels. 

In the morning, children wake to find their shoes filled with candies and other small gifts along with bigger gifts as well. Family members then gather to exchange gifts with each other and celebrate. Countries like Colombia use this family gathering to take down their Christmas tree and other decorations, as the holiday signals the end of the Christmas season. 

For countries such as Peru and Brazil, the day is celebrated with parades honoring the holiday in a mix of cultural traditions and religious ceremonies. 

And Mexico, a big part of Dia de los Reyes is the Rosca de Reyes. This round sweet-bread is decorated to resemble a king’s crown with the candied dried fruit. Part of the tradition includes a small baby Jesus figurine baked into the bread. Whoever finds the toy must then host a party for everyone on Día de la Candelaria or the Day of the Candles on February 2. 

Interested in making a rosca yourself? Check out this recipe by Latina chef, Yvette Marquez, where she adds her own twist on the traditional dish. 

You might be interested: Try these healthy holiday food recipes by Latina chefs 

We want to know: how do you and your family celebrate Dia de los Reyes? Share your story with us in the comments below or on social media!

Latino traditions

Janny Perez Mi Legasi keeps Latino traditions alive for moms and kids

Latina entrepreneur Janny Perez is the creator of Mi Legasi, a bilingual subscription box and shop that brings the vibrant Latino culture to moms who want their children to learn and cherish their Latino traditions. 

Janny Perez Mi Legasi at the 2017 Latina SmallBiz Expo in Newark NJ keeping Latino traditions alive.

Mi Legasi strives to empower families and connect children with their Latino traditions and culture. Each box comes with a variety of items such as bilingual Spanish books, toys, games, craft projects, and family activities along with special gifts for mamá such as beauty, home, office, or accessory items.

The idea for Mi Legasi came after Janny had her daughter, Victoria, in 2015. “I felt the need to ensure that she understood where she came from and what it meant for her to be Latina,” Janny explains. “I wanted her to experience the music, foods, language, culture and stories that were passed down to me.”

In May of 2017 Mi Legasi was officially created as a way to empower moms and families to connect with Latino traditions and culture, focus on quality family time, and create their own legacy.

Mi Legacy keeps  Latino traditions alive

Latino traditions

Janny Perez’s daughter Victoria was the inspiration for her company Mi Legasi

Mi Legasi is Janny’s legacy, which she dedicates as tribute to her immigrant parents and to her daughter Victoria as a reminder that anything can be accomplished through hard work and dedication.

Janny credits her father for much of her spirit and dedication. “He is my hero,” she says. The youngest of many siblings, her father grew up poor on a coffee farm in Colombia. “He had dreams of flying and seeing the world. Without any formal education and lots of hard work, sweat, and determination, my father accomplished this.” It is this dedication and example that has influenced Janny to strive for her own dreams.

Janny Perez as  Latina entrepreneur

Latino traditions

Bilingual books included in the subscription box

As a Latina entrepreneur, she believes her biggest strengths to be her tenacity, creativity, and generosity.

“Tenacity is not just going after your dream, but taking action to get there,” Janny explains. “It’s waking up early or working late while the rest of the world sleeps. It’s the ability to face rejection with optimism because you know something bigger will come.”

Her creativity helps her in many aspects of her business, from design and product creation to photography and social media posts. Lastly, her generosity allows her to use her business platform to help others from sending Latina moms suffering due to illness a Mi Legasi kindness package to donating to impoverished children in Latin America.

She believes the key to facing all obstacles and challenges is to be headstrong and disciplined. “If you let fear drive you, you won’t go far.” She has three key mottos to staying strong. First is to trust in your faith, whatever that may be– “God, the universe or your gut. It’s that spark inside you that keeps you pushing forward.” Second is to be flexible and open to change. And last is to have patience. All things take time.

Never be afraid to speak up

Latino traditions

The box also includes products for mom.

To Latinas looking to dive into their own business ventures or achieve success in their careers Janny says, “Never be afraid to speak up and don’t settle just because it’s the status quo….As Latinas we are afraid. Our culture has at times limited our beliefs that we can. We are the lowest paid of minorities. We need to break the cycle.”

Overall, Janny advises to stay determined and know the realities of starting a business. “Know that you will likely lose money, work day and night, make lots of sacrifices, worry, and that the road is curved and unpredictable but what you learn and the connections you make are far greater than you’d expect. Know that you can and you will, just one day at a time!”

On her struggles as a business owner Janny says, “Being a ‘mompreneur’ has been quite challenging. It’s not a regular 9 to 5 job so you don’t really have days off, but it’s flexible.”

Janny believes in the importance of creating one’s own legacy and following one’s dreams no matter the obstacles. All things are possible with hard work, patience, and tenacity. Her business came from her motherhood and so Janny hopes that Mi Legasi can help and inspire other Latina moms to create their own legacies with their children.  


Latino traditions


Latinos aging in America

The Hispanic Paradox: Roberto Muñiz talks about Latinos aging in America

As the baby-boomer population increases, Latinos aging in America have become a “good news-bad news” kind of topic. On one side, Latinos continue to puzzle doctors and researchers by aging at a slower rate than other ethnic groups, a phenomenon called “the Hispanic Paradox.” On the other, evidence of health disparities, lack of health insurance and poverty levels make them a vulnerable group that requires special attention from policy makers and healthcare providers alike. We interviewed Roberto Muñiz, President and CEO of Parker, to help us understand how Latinos age in America.

Latinos aging in America

Roberto Muniz at a Parker event. (Photo courtesy of Parker)

The findings of a UCLA study published in Genome Biology may help scientists understand how to slow the aging process for everyone. It seems that Latinos age more slowly at a molecular level, explained Steve Horvath, a professor of human genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and these findings might be used in future aging research.

Researchers believe that Hispanic culture might contribute to this phenomenon — including being closer to their families, keeping fresher food in their diets with less fast food, and manual labor keeping workers in better shape.

Nobody more qualified to speak to this topic than Roberto Muñiz, who for nearly 20 years has been President and CEO of Parker, a best in class, non-profit, New Jersey-based aging services organization that recently celebrated its 110th anniversary. This long-term experience in the aging sector makes Muñiz the ideal expert to discuss how the Latino community views aging—especially cultural nuances such as potential stigma around nursing homes and assisted living facilities vs. living at home or with one’s family.

How do Latinos feel about aging?

“Latinos embrace aging and see it as a natural progression of life,” Muñiz told “They value family interactions and usually have a large, very close-knit family where the younger ones understand that they will eventually take care of the aging members,” he added.

Coming from a big family with six sisters, Muñiz recalls that there was always someone able to care for their mother. As she got older, she appreciated having family around.

“Latinos do, however, still fear aging because they have a higher rate of chronic health conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, than other ethnic groups. Regardless of this, Latinos really make aging part of life and tend to feel comfortable with that new stage,” he stated.

Latinos aging in America and nursing homes

Roberto Muniz is uniquely qualified to talk about Latinos aging in America (Photo courtesy of Parker)

Roberto Muniz is uniquely qualified to talk about Latinos aging in America.

Research shows current nursing home admission rates for Hispanics are far below levels for other ethnic groups. Hispanics accounted for 5.5 percent of all nursing homes residents in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2016, according to government data.

“Hispanics have traditionally used formal long-term care services less than other US ethnic groups. They are less likely than Caucasians and African Americans to live in nursing homes and use of home health aides,” Muñiz explained.

Difficulty communicating because of cultural or language barriers is one of the factors contributing to their lower use of long-term care services. Traditionally, children, mainly women, take on the role of caregivers in a family.

However, as times change and more women are joining the workforce, there has been an increase in family members being placed in nursing homes or assisted living in America. “This trend is still observed in Latino families, but to a lesser extent,” Muñiz said.

“Since culturally Latino families feel the responsibility to care for their loved ones at home, many tend to feel guilty because they place a lot of emphasis on family unity,” he explained. “It is uncomfortable for them not knowing how their elders are being taken care of, but they recognize that although they’d prefer to support them themselves, the younger members have to work and deal with their own families issues,” Muñiz added.

You might be interested:  Women pay inequality gap follows them into retirement

Options for Latinos placed in assisted living and nursing facilities

Assisted living and nursing facilities in the U.S. are usually established by for-profit organizations. Although most nursing homes participate in the Medicaid programs, Medicaid is not accepted in most assisted living organizations, making it very expensive for those who cannot afford these services when they are most needed.

Latinos aging in America

Roberto Muniz addressing the audience at a Parker event.  (Photo courtesy of Parker)

“Assisted living facilities are regulated by each State but they are less regulated in comparison to nursing homes,” explained Muñiz. And he continued, “Each state has different requirements; for instance, in New Jersey, regulations require that assisted living facilities that have been in operations for longer than three years must allocate at least 10 percent of their units for residents who are Medicaid eligible, allowing individuals with limited resources to participate in the State Medicaid waiver program,” he indicated. Raising awareness of these regulations is extremely important so that families can take advantage of this option.

Regarding nursing facilities, elderly Hispanics, more than non-Hispanics, depend more of nursing homes that are located in inner cities where typically Hispanics tend to reside, making it more accessible to family members. However, these facilities are usually characterized by severe deficiencies in performance, understaffing and poor care.

Role of “abuelas” in the Latino family

Due to salary gaps, educational disadvantages and lesser work opportunities, Latinas carry these disadvantages into retirement.  These economic circumstances have given “abuelas” a key role in the family.

“The “abuelas” contribute by helping with the children while parents are working,” Muñiz said. “Regardless of where the grandmother lives, she’s still the matriarch of the family and many times responsible for instilling core family values. Their relationship with their grandchildren is sometimes even stronger than the kids’ relationships with their parents. This connection may be affected when grandparents are placed in nursing homes or assisted living, but nevertheless grandparents are seen as the backbone of the Latino family.” Muñiz assured.

What Latinos aging in America expect from their future

Latinos aging in America have added a new challenge to the country’s already steep rise in its elderly population as baby boomers enter their retirement years. Policymakers must prepare for this shift in the aging population, as it is expected that by 2050, long-lived Hispanics will account for nearly 20 percent of those older than 65, four times the five percent they represented in the year 2000. However, it might help that a nationwide survey conducted by Parker found that 72 percent of Hispanics do not fear or worry much about aging at all, and 57 percent of Hispanics think of aging in positive ways using words like “hopeful,” “relevant,” and “vibrant.”


About Roberto Muñiz

Roberto Muniz, President and CEO of Parker Latinos aging in America

Roberto Muniz, President and CEO of Parker (Photo courtesy of Parker)

Roberto Muñiz arrived in America from Puerto Rico when he was 13 years old—one of 14 brothers, sisters, and half-siblings—speaking almost no English at all. He spent his youth in a tough area of Elizabeth, New Jersey, but found solace in volunteering at Alexian Brothers Hospital, where he received a free meal for every four-hour shift he worked. He then began to envision a future career in aging services, a sector in which he has been a national thought leader for more than a quarter century.

A fellow and former board member of the American College of Health Care Administrators, Muñiz is a past president of the New Jersey Chapter, where he is currently a member-at-large of their board of directors. He is the immediate past chair and currently serves as a member of the board of trustees of the New Jersey Foundation for Aging.

Muñiz is the chair of the board of trustees of New Brunswick Tomorrow, a board member of LeadingAge National and LeadingAge New Jersey, and he chairs their Education Committee. Roberto also serves on the Bergen County Advisory Council of the Division of Senior Services and is a founding member of the Life Enrichment Aging Project Professionals (LEAP).

Muñiz has served as a member of the New Jersey Commission on Aging, the New Jersey Advisory Council on Elder Care and the Governor’s Transition Policy Group on Health and Senior Issues.

He is the recipient of the 2013 “Leaders of Tomorrow” award presented by Long Term Living Magazine and, most recently, the 2015 Distinguished Citizen Award by the Boy Scouts of America for his outstanding contributions to the community. In addition, he has been awarded the Distinguished Service Award by LeadingAge New Jersey, and both the Young Administrator and the Distinguished Administrator Awards from the New Jersey Chapter of the American College of Healthcare Administrators. He was also awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the National College of Health Care Administrators for his leadership within the profession of long-term care administration.

Muñiz is a graduate fellow of Leadership New Jersey and was appointed adjunct instructor of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, now Rutgers University. In 2012, he was appointed as a part-time Instructor at Rutgers University’s Edward J. Bloustein School of Public Planning and Public Policy, teaching both the Public Health and Health Administration majors.

Muñiz holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health Administration and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Rutgers University. He is a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator (LNHA) in both New Jersey and New York.



"You are fired!" the famous imprint of Presidential hopeful Donald Trump

Hispanic values: Why there will never be a “Latino Donald Trump”

"You are fired!" the famous imprint of Presidential hopeful Donald Trump

“You are fired!” the famous imprint of Presidential hopeful Donald Trump

“You’re fired!” With these two words one of America’s most notorious business icons defines his core values and illustrates why there will never be a “Latino Donald Trump”.

Latinos do not aspire to emulate Mr. Trump not only because we are unimpressed with his mediocre ranking among wealthy Americans (in 2015 Donald Trump ranked #405 of the Forbes 500 Richest Americans) but because we have different core values.

Traditional Hispanic cultural values eschew Trump’s haughty character and outrageous behavior and many Latinos consider him nothing more than a sinvergüenza. (shameless). If one chose to model Donald Trump and eventually acquired an equal fortune but also reputation, a Latina mother would not be proud!

I certainly do not intend to disparage Mr. Trump or his achievements. He certainly has managed to leverage his inherited millions into many more. In today’s celebrity obsessed American culture, Donald Trump is a genius at generating publicity and a master of self-promotion.

A media darling who often is asked for his business advice despite having many business failures and having filed for bankruptcy, Trump has successfully convinced many in mainstream media that he is the richest man in America and that he epitomizes the “American Dream.”

And this is where the disconnection occurs. Donald Trump’s version of the American Dream, with its emphasis on conspicuous consumption, notoriety and self-aggrandizement, is meaningless for Latinos because it conflicts with our core values, the soul of Latino identity.

As a Latino entrepreneur it is difficult for me to understand why Mr. Trump takes so much pleasure in uttering the words “Your fired” or “You’re a loser” as he does all too often in his many public squabbles.

Perhaps this is overcompensation for an inner feeling of insecurity or self loathing? Does “The Donald” look and act like a man secure, happy and content with his life to you? I’m no psychologist but I often wonder if Mr. Trump needs to put others down, especially Mexican immigrants, to make himself feel relevant. Is Mr. Trump’s behavior worthy of an inspiring commander-in-chief, someone who aspires to be President of the United States of America and leader of the free world?

I feel sorry for Mr. Trump, who carries such a strong will to succeed and yet is numero uno in no category that really matters (see Trump’s failures here). He reminds me of King Midas who, despite possessing more wealth than any other king around his time, had an unquenchable thirst for ever more riches.

According to the parable, King Midas struck a deal (Trump authored “The Art of the Deal”) with the god Dionysus to turn everything he touched into gold. Not only did he turn his food into gold, which he could then not eat, but eventually turned his beloved daughter into gold to his eternal regret.

There will never be a “Latino Donald Trump” because our wealth is measured by something greater than money. Frankly, Latinos do not measure wealth with money accumulation alone. What makes Latinos rich, what we value most is our faith, family and frijoles, our culture. And while there are many Latinos who have accumulated great wealth, such as billionaire Carlos Simms of Mexico, you will rarely hear a Latino bragging about his or her accomplishments.

Faith, family and frijoles (culture) are the values that give our Latino American Dream meaning; the pleasure in telling someone “You’re fired!” is not in our Hispanic DNA. In fact, the social graces of humility, courtesy and respect, in our culture, exemplify someone who is secure in his or her identity, confident in their success and who makes their Latina mother proud.