Where I come from Santa Claus doesn't visit, we actually get a visit on January 6 from the three wise kings; Gaspar, Melchor, and Baltazar.
On January 5th all the kids head out to the store to buy juices or soda, candies, crackers/cookies to make sure the three wise kings get a snack when they arrive...we collect grass and a bowl of water for the camels in case they are thirsty, they have been working the entire night...
We always wondered how they managed to get in the house when the doors were locked, little did we know that they used their magic to turn into ants to get in *smiles*. They would place the unwrapped gifts under our bed for us to find when we woke up the next day, that was so exciting!!
When we first moved to the US I thought the three wise kings were going to come but my mother told us that Santa Claus will be coming instead...I wasn't too thrilled at first, I didn't know how the Santa business worked so I decided to do a little research...bad decision, more questions than answers! We didn't have a chimney...we lived on the 8th floor, how was he suppose to come in? and how did he know if I was naughty or nice? I had only been in this country for 5 months...but he made it!
When my kids were younger I wanted them to experience the same things I did, so in my house not only Santa Claus visited but also the three wise kings.
I told them the same stories I heard growing up...the night before the wise kings arrived we lay in bed reading stories about them...although they didn't understand much Spanish there was a poem that I learned as a young age by Ruben Dario - a Nicaraguan poet...I use to recite it in Spanish first and after I would translate it so they had a better understanding.
We would get the table ready with the snacks and drinks, play around for a while so they would get tired...I don't know who used to be more excited about the entire ordeal, I couldn't wait for them to wake up and see what the wise kings left them the night before. Santa Claus brought huge toys, electronics, barbies, etc...the wise kings gave them simple toys like jump ropes, jacks, materials so they can learn how to build their own kites, books so mom can read to them at night, marbles, etc. They really enjoyed it and when they were older they helped me keep the tradition with my son, doing the same things I did with them when they were little :)
When we sat around in the living room last night we were reminiscing about those days...they expressed their gratitude and told me how lucky they felt to have experienced such tradition and they hope they can continue when they have their own children! I am not in a rush to be a grandmother but I can't wait!!