Wednesday, January 5, 2011

¡Los Tres Reyes Magos!

The Feast of the Three Kings also known as Epiphany takes place every year on January 6th. It is an intricate part of Puerto Rican folklore. Traditionally, this day is very important, especially for children, for it is on this eve that they will receive their gifts. On the feast of the Epiphany, the Three kings visited the Christ Child in Bethlehem bearing him gifts. This tradition is repeated and reflected in present day with the belief that on this eve the Three Kings will visit every good child to deliver them gifts. Tradition states that on the Eve of the Epiphany children collect hay, straw or grass and place it in boxes or containers under their beds. This gesture is a gift of food for the Kings' camels while they rest in between deliveries. If a child is good for the past year he will receive candies, sweets or toys. If the child  misbehaved or was naughty he would instead find a lump of dirt or charcoal in his box. This tradition is much older than that of Santa's visit on Christmas Eve.

I have used a mixture of Spanish, Turkish, Egyptian and Moroccan accessories for our "Three Kings" table. This Moroccan mirror was purchased at World Market several years ago and goes with the shelf in the other corner. I had it upside down when I first got it then realized it should be this way.

The plates on each end of the table are handpainted from Turkey. I bought them in a store near Adana, Turkey, but you can actually find them on ebay. I would not use these for food, but they would work great with a clear glass plate over top or just replace when serving food. 

I used red and green glassware from World Market, Oneida "Golden Julliard" flatware along with napkin rings and napkins also from World Market.

Thanks to the very talented and super generous Dana at "Ranch Dressing" I now have six of these "Vallarta" salad plates form Pier One. If you have not visited her blog, you are missing out. She is incredibly talented so check her out! 

I decided to use boxes to represent the gifts the kings brought to Jesus. I put the palm tree in a Mexican Talavera pot on top of the largest box. The runner is made from fabric I bought in Turkey and features camels with palm trees, which inspired using the palm. Although it is large, placed on the box, it really doesn't impede conversation. I will, however remove it when we eat. The brass candle holders are vintage family heirlooms from India.

The beautiful mother-of-pearl inlaid box on top was a gift from missionaries I knew in Egypt.

I bought this box in Germany, but it was actually made in Poland. 

These hanging lanterns also came from Turkey.  I only bought three, but I wish I had gotten more while I had the chance. 

The coffee cups are from Turkey and obviously for Turkish coffee. I loved it in Turkey, but haven't mastered making it here! It is very similar to Cuban coffee with sugar but no cream. 

To make Turkish coffee you will need a "cezve" (JEZZ-veh).  Here's how you do it:
Measure the amount of cold water you will need.
Place your pot of water on the stove and turn the heat to medium-high (just until the water heats up).
Add about 1-2 heaping tea spoons (or 1 tablespoon) of coffee per demitasse cup (3 oz).  Do not stir it yet. Just let the coffee "float" on the surface because if you stir it now you might cause it to clump up.
Add sugar to taste. Do not stir it yet, Let the water warm up little bit as above.
When the coffee starts to sink into the water and the water is warm enough to dissolve your sugar,  stir it several times and then turn down the heat to low.  You should stir it several times, up until it your brew starts to foam (you can also vigorously move your spoon side to side to encourage to start the foaming). 
When you see the bubble "ring" forming on the surface, turn down the heat a little bit more or move your pot away from the heat source. Pay attention to the bubbles that are forming at this stage. Bubbles should be very small in size.
From this point on watch your coffee carefully.  Do not let the temperature get hot enough to start boiling. (NEVER LET IT BOIL - many instructions on how to make Turkish coffee use the term "boiling" but this is totally inaccurate) The key idea here is to let the coffee build a thick froth and that occurs approximately around 158 F or 70 C (i.e., much cooler than the boiling point of water which is 212 F or 100 C at standard pressure.  If your brew comes to a boil, you will not have any foam because it will simply evaporate!). 
Keep it at the "foaming" stage as long as you can without letting it come to a boil.  You might even gently stir your brew a little bit at this stage.  The more froth, the better it will taste. Also your coffee must be fresh or it will not foam as well. If your brew gets too hot and begins to "rise," then move it away from the heat or just turn it down.  You are almost done.  Repeat this process until your foam has "raised" and "cooled" at the most couple of times (NOT 3-4 times like some instructions. Even once is enough).  Then pour in to your cups (quickly at first to get out the foam, then slowly) while making sure that each cup has equal amount of foam!  If you are serving several cups then you might be better off spooning the foam into each cup.

The tall wrought iron candle holder is also from Turkey and was a great deal at $25. I bought another one a year later at the same shop. I can't imagine they would be that inexpensive here! 

Now for a few night pics...

I wanted to share a couple links if you are interested in browsing. I bought two beautiful Turkish rugs at Yellow Star Carpets, one of which you can view in my living room post HERE. The experience of actually choosing a rug there was wonderful, but you can buy online if you're not planning a trip there! Another very popular place for Americans near Adana is Pop's Leather.  You can also google Turkish coffee and get retailers to buy the coffee and pots and other accessories. 

I hope you have enjoyed my multi-cultural "Three Kings" table. I took a little of Spanish and and put it together with Turkish! The children will be putting grass in boxes under their beds tonight then wake up with gifts from the Three Kings.  That should be fun since it just started snowing. Can't wait to try to find grass!

I'll be joining Susan at "Between Naps on the Porch" for Tablescape Thursday so please go by there for a visit. 


  1. Anita, what a wonderfully festive table! I think you did an amazing job on this. Bravo!


    Sheila :-)

  2. Anita...I love this colorful and meaningful table. Thank you for sharing :)


  3. Lovely table!
    I really like the three candles hanging in front of the window from Turkey. Very pretty!


  4. Anita, this is a rich and beautiful tablescape reflecting the Three Kings. Those plates are just beautiful and I love the hanging lanterns -- just so colorful. Love it all. Happy Tres Reyes Day. Joni

  5. Hi. I'm your newest follower. Your blog is really great. I love, love, love this post with all the colorful dishes and accessories. It's really pretty.

  6. I adore this table, one of my favs Anita. Happy new Year.

  7. Well, you have made my day! I was enjoying the music, casually scrolling down and then beaming with the knowledge that you are using those plates for such a special celebration! I'm still smiling. Thank you! Perfect and Beautiful as always!!!!!!

  8. I LOVE your table, every single piece on the table. I also love that your traditions continue. Simply beautiful. I loved coming to visit and learning so much!

  9. Bellisima! I love the colorful combination...Turkish and Spanish seem to work beautifully for you...

  10. Anita... you always put so much thought into your tablescapes. This is so meaningful because many of the pieces that you've included, right down to the lanterns, are from places you've been. Your family will feel especially loved because of your thoughtfulness in preparing their celebration. Your children will remember all of this and hold it in their hearts as such precious memories ~ most importantly that they feel so loved.
    I hope you enjoyed La Víspera de Reyes ~ and of course tomorrow ~ El dia de Los Reyes Magos!

    Blessings to you and your family ~

  11. Anita, just a breathtaking post and lovely descriptions. It reminds me of a beautiful movie set with anticipation of a wonderful dinner. Happy Epiphany and many blessings to you all. My grandmother made Greek coffee that reminds me of what you showed us this evening.Best wishes, Emelia.

  12. You must have had a blast designing this table! I love every detail of the entire environment that you've created. Thanks for sharing this amazing work of art and for stopping by my post. Cherry Kay

  13. gorgeous! certainly a feast set for kings!

    did you survive all the Christmas services?

    we had a glorious, exhausting time of worship!


  14. Hello Anita...this is all such a beautiful post...the table looks amazing and your home in those glades looks so romantic with the candle in the window!
    Wishing you a great New Year and looking forward to reading more of your posts....always love stopping by here!
    Shel x

  15. I love the idea of a dinner and table devoted to the Feast of the Three Kings. You've created a beautiful scene here, as always.

  16. This is BEAUTIFUL, Anita!!!! I love everything and colorful combination with Turkish and Spanish.Especially, explenation related with Turkish Coffee.You always talented. Çok teşekkürler(thanks a lot).

  17. I LOVE all the color! Those plates are just so tantalizing!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. Anita, what a beautiful table! I love seeing the celebration of Epiphany. You have done such a lovely job pulling all of the elements together - both in style and color. Those lanterns are absolutely gorgeous! The textures too are wonderful! This is a table full of elegance.

  19. As an Asian, you colours scheme is my dear faves! Love the strong & earthy colours. Feels so exotic, like me...waaahhh haaa... kidding!

    I just want to greet you a wonderful 3 King's Day. I will celebrate with my chums from Continental Airlines tomorrow.

    Happy TS...

    Greetings from chilly Stockholm,

  20. There are so many beautiful colors there. Just lovely.

  21. I am clapping my hands in delight! We here in the Gunn house celebrate 3 Kings Day too. So many people believe that Christmas ends on Dec. 25th when actually it is just beginning!

    Lovely table, fabulous post. Well done!

  22. What a beautiful table. The Turkish plates are magnificant and I love the runner. Such vibrant colors and with wonderful history.

    - The Tablescaper

  23. Perfection! I love all the colors of the plates and the candles in the window are gorgeous, Anita! I loved being in Germany on the Day of Epiphany. Children from the church came around, sang at each home and blessed the house by marking it with C + M+ B and the year. Such a wonderful tradition!

  24. I love everything about this table, and I love learning about this tradition. It actually DOES make much more sense than the Santa bringing gifts on Christmas Eve, doesn't it?

    Your colors are really stunning on this one. It's rich and beautiful. The first thing that I noticed was the use of boxes for the centerpiece. It's my favorite part of a very beautiful table.

    And also, I wouldn't have thought to use clear plates over decorative ones. Great idea!

    As always, you have shared a really beautiful table, Anita!

  25. This is one of my favorite tables that you have done. And there are many to choose from, so that's saying a lot. I adore those Turkish lanterns in the window though. They look so festive with the light shining through the window.

  26. I love the theme of this dinner, what a creative way to bring the season alive- It is beautiful.

  27. A very festive table! I love all the bright and cheery colors! Thank you for sharing.

  28. Oh how pretty your "Three Kings Day" table is -- love those beautiful plates and the boxes and lanterns too -- a very pretty interpretaion.

  29. beautiful,you inspired me to do something special for 3 kings day.We are puertorican so we too have long xmas,i dont take the xmas out till after 3 kings