The No. 1 rated preschool animation series, Dora the Explorer, takes on a new journey this year when Dora, Diego and Boots plan a Three Kings Day Party. "Dora Saves Three Kings Day" aims to educate children about one of the many cultural traditions celebrated by Hispanic communities.
According to a Bible story, the three kings (also known as wise men or magi) saw a bright star in the sky on the night of Christ's birth and followed it to the city of Bethlehem. There, they came upon baby Jesus and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Three Kings Day, which is also referred to as the Epiphany, is observed Jan. 6, the 12th day after Christmas, and celebrates the 12 days of Christmas. The Western Christian Church adopted Dec. 25 as the day of the feast of Christ's birth, whereas the Eastern Christian Church recognizes Jan. 6 as the celebration of the Nativity.
Traditionally, on the eve before Three Kings Day, there were prayers. Blessed, dried herbs would be burned and their aromatic smell would fill the house. Doorways would be sprinkled with holy water and the master of the house would write with chalk "C + M + B" and the year above the house and barn door in order to be protected from the dangers of fire and water. C + M + B has traditionally been translated as "Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar," the names of the Three Kings. However, according to the church, it stands for "Christus Mansionem Benedictat," or "Christ bless this home."
Among the other traditions, children go door-to-door with a star in hand, dressed as the Three Kings. They sing carols and tell the Biblical story of the Three Kings' journey to Bethlehem. In return, they receive treats for themselves and money for charity.
A popular food prepared by Hispanics for the celebration is a crown-shaped sweet-bread cake decorated with candied fruits that symbolize jewels. A small figurine is baked into the cake, symbolizing baby Jesus. The serving of the cake is a festive event celebrated in large groups with family and friends gathering to indulge in a piece of the sweetbread. Traditionally, whoever gets the piece of the cake containing the baby Jesus is obligated to host another party on or before Feb. 2. This date is known as Candlemas, or "the Presentation of the Christ Child," and marks the official end of the Christmas season.
Nickelodeon's special event sees Dora, Diego and Boots the monkey dressed as the Three Kings. They ride on horse, camel and elephant to carry treats, presents and a special Three Kings Day cake to a party at cousin Diego's rescue center. When Swiper, the sly fox, scares away the animals, the three adventurers undertake a mission to find them.
As always with Dora, the audience is invited to participate -- each step of their journey consists of a problem or puzzle that causes Dora to implore the viewer for help. Dora is bilingual, and frequently teaches both English and Spanish phrases to the audience in the course of their interactive problem solving.
While you can get a two-minute sneak peak and song clips from the "Dora Saves Three Kings Day" at Nickjr.com, the full half-hour episode premieres on Jan. 6, 2009, on Nickelodeon at 8 p.m.
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