In Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, An Annual Pilgrimage Ends The Christmas Season
Maria Teresita Dzib Tun hosted a Three Kings party in her hometown of Oxkutzcab.
Mónica Ortiz Uribe
January 07, 2015
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Mónica Ortiz Uribe
A boy dresses up as one of the Three Kings during a pilgrimage that takes place in Mexico's Yucatan peninsula.

A good night's sleep is hard to come by in Mexico's Yucatan peninsula.

Without notice, firecrackers rise and explode in the dark tropical skies.

Locals in the rural towns of this coastal state are ending their Christmas season this week with the celebration of the Three Kings. These are the three wise men who traveled to Bethlehem bearing gifts for the newborn Christ child.

Revelers are everywhere. At a block party in the town of Oxkutzcab a 10-piece band played for a neighborhood party of some 80 people. Women wore white lace dresses embroidered with multi-colored roses. Three dancers balanced trays on their heads. On those trays were slow-roasted pig heads that were later sliced and served to the guests. 

During the day, the party was on the tight two-lane roads in between the towns. Slow moving pick-ups bedecked with balloons sounded a car alarm. Young people ran or biked along the edge of the pavement. Some wear gold crowns and brightly colored capes.

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Mónica Ortiz Uribe
Pick-up trucks carry pilgrims during the Three Kings festival in Mexico's Yucatan peninsula.

They are pilgrims who travel hundreds of kilometers to the town of Tizimin which has a famous church dedicated to the Three Kings. At the church they make a petition or say thanks for good fortune. 

Jose Carlos Batum, 20, is made the journey with his sister and cousin. All three rode their bikes.

Batum said his farming family is thankful for a good corn harvest last year. Also a few relatives got highly coveted jobs in the Mayan Riviera, Mexico's tourist mecca, where millions of Americans descend every year.

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Mónica Ortiz Uribe
A man prepares a roasted pig head to serve to guests at a party in honor of the Three Kings festival.

"This is the eighth year I've made this pilgrimage," Batum said. 

In Mexico, the Three Kings fiesta typically involves a doughnut-shaped fruit cake. Hidden inside is a tiny baby Jesus figurine. If you find it in your slice, you're on the hook to throw yet another party next month.