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Traditional Three Kings Day Celebration Recap

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Traditional Three Kings Day Celebration Recap

Attendees enjoy playing games and snacking on Hispanic foods.

Attendees enjoy playing games and snacking on Hispanic foods.

Colin Landis (‘19)

Attendees enjoy playing games and snacking on Hispanic foods.

Colin Landis (‘19)

Colin Landis (‘19)

Attendees enjoy playing games and snacking on Hispanic foods.

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The Cherry Hill Hispanic Civic Association (CHHICA) on January 5, 2019, hosted a traditional Three Kings’ Day (El Día de los Reyes) celebration open to members of the community. It was held from 5-8 in the Carmen Tilelli Community Center.

Three Kings’ Day is a Christian and Hispanic traditional celebration, occurring in most Latin American countries on January 6th, annually. Also known as Feast of the Epiphany, the holiday commemorates the biblical day that the Three Kings or Three Wise Men presented baby Jesus with gifts. It is typically celebrated with community parades, gifts for children, family games and lots of food.

“This is the first year that we’re hosting the Three Kings Day event,” said Dr. Waleska Batista, a Spanish teacher at Rosa International Middle School and vital leader at CHHICA. “This is the second year the organization has been [running], CHICA.”

The Community Center was decorated colorfully with streamers, tablecloths and floral centerpieces, thanks to help from student volunteers, mostly made up of members from the Spanish National Honors Society (SNHS) and Latinos y Amigos at East.

“It’s a great opportunity for students who are studying world language to experience the culture, and for this event they don’t have to travel to another country,” said Batista.

During the celebration, traditional activities like Dominos and crafts were set up on tables in the back, along with customary Hispanic foods for sale.

“We want the kids to feel like they have been transported to a Latin American country and participate in some of the same activities that traditionally would happen,” said Batista. “Whenever there’s a celebration [in Latin America], dominos are involved and it can get pretty serious!”

CHHICA strives to provide somewhere, through events and festivals like these, that Hispanics of Cherry Hill can find each other and form cultural bonds.

“Prior to the formation of CHHICA, we didn’t even know where to find hispanics in Cherry Hill,” said Batista. “It gave us the opportunity to find others like ourselves… the diversity even within our organization is amazing”

East students were able to participate in the event, through the encouragement of SNHS and Latinos y Amigos. Both organizations act like CHHICA does in the community, providing a safe and welcoming place for those of Hispanic cultures, or anyone willing and wanting to learn more about them.

“This year we’ve really increased in size,” said Alma Martinez (‘20), president of Latinos y Amigos. Martinez’s father, uncle and grandfather played the parts of the Three Kings at the celebration. “Last year we had like eight people and know we have like 48.”

“Our role basically is to just spread our culture around, make Cherry Hill a little bit more diverse… we wanna make sure that the Hispanics that are here know about their culture,” said Paloma McMurtry (‘19), Vice President of Latinos y Amigos. “We just really want to make sure that since there is a lack of representation… that blacks and hispanics at our school and in the community have somebody to talk to, have somebody to go to if there’s a problem… anything racially, socially, emotionally.”

SNHS also encouraged their members not only to attend the event, but also to arrive early and stay late to help CHHICA organize and clean up the celebration.

“We encourage our members to take part in this, not only just because it celebrates Hispanic and Latino heritage, but also to give them an opportunity to gain more [community service] hours,” said Colin Landis, president of SNHS. “We want them to be conscious of the community… [and] then go out and either experience the language through culture or participate in language-oriented activities.”

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Traditional Three Kings Day Celebration Recap