Traditionally, in the Dominican Republic, gifts are not presented until “El Dia de los Reyes / 3 Kings’ Day”. Although it is held on the 6th of January, the holiday is taken on the following Monday it falls on.
On this day, the Wise Men arrived at the birth place of Jesus, therefore the Kings are the gift givers in the Dominican Republic, not Santa. Although,because of the strong influence and acceptance of United States customs, some people choose to give gifts on both days.
Dominican children wait for the arrival of the Three Kings. They do not leave cookies and milk. Instead they leave grass and water for the camels and mints or candies for the Kings. They place their offerings either under their beds, outside the bedroom door or out on the outside steps of the home. These offerings are exchanged by the Kings for gifts for the little ones.
In the rural areas and more impoverished neighborhoods, besides the Three Kings and Santa, there is an old tradition of La Vieja Belen, who also leaves gifts for the children.
My father, who may rest in peace, was born on January 6th, and was named after one of the Kings, Melchor (poor kid growing up). So for our family, this day was and always will be extra special.