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Area families celebrate Julian Calendar Christmas & Three Kings Day

A number of orthodox services are on tap Friday as people mark Julian Calendar Christmas. However, this week is also special for members of the Latino community.

SCRANTON, Pa. — A number of orthodox services are on tap across our area on Friday, January 7, as people mark Julian Calendar Christmas. 

For members of the Latino community, this week is also more special. More on that in a moment. 

But first, Christmas as the sounds of the season fill a number of churches and homes as our faithful friends who follow the Julian Calendar celebrate Christmas.

The Julian calendar dates back to Roman times. It was created by Julius Caesar. Christmas falls 13 days later than the calendar we use now. 

Many Orthodox Christians still use the Julian calendar today for religious holidays.

This week is also quite holy for many in Spain and Latin America. Just last night, families, including Mari Sanchez's in Scranton, celebrated something else.

"The Three Kings Day. That's our biggest celebration," said Mari.

Three Kings Day is also referred to as "The Epiphany," which comes 12 days after Christmas. The day celebrates the three wise men who first saw baby Jesus and brought him gifts.

It's a holiday that Mari, who is half Puerto Rican and half Italian, has been celebrating ever since she was a little girl.

"We keep it alive because our parents brought us up with this tradition, and we want to bring our children up with this tradition as well," said Mari. It's really important to the Puerto Rican community to keep this tradition alive."

Mari told Ryan Leckey about some of the traditional foods.

"We make this special eggnog, which is made out of grated, coconut, cinnamon, a little bit of Carnation milk, a little bit of coconut milk, coconut cream, and condensed milk. And some people drink it with alcohol. This one has alcohol. They also have one without alcohol," explained Mari. "And for food, we have what's called Pastelillos, also known as Puerto Rican turnovers. And it's made of basically roots like bananas, cassava. And inside, we have pieces of pork. And we also do a whole roasted pork in our backyard."

There's even a special gift exchange.

Mari said, "We actually use a shoebox with straw in it. And children take that box, and they put it under their bed. And the next morning, when they wake up, there should be a toy or a gift in there. If they were good, and if they were bad, they'll probably get a box with the same straw they left."

Many use Julian Calendar Christmas as a timeline of sorts, as the last day to keep up their Christmas décor before packing it away for the season.