Inside the Rosca there will be one or more small plastic figurines of Baby Jesus, hidden away in the soft interior of the bread. This represents the need that the Virgin Mary and Joseph had to find a safe place to hide their baby from King Herod. On the evening of the 6th of January, the Rosca is divided up and each person will take a slice. The knife cutting into the bread symbolizes the danger that the baby Jesus was in from King Herod and his soldiers as they searched for him. When everyone has their slice, they can either tuck straight in and see what happens or inspect their slice for the Baby Jesus. He or she who ‘wins’ the figurine(s) must bring tamales for everyone on the 2nd of February when Mexicans celebrate the Día de la Candelaria, the Candlemaker's Day. This is a celebration which falls exactly 40 days after Christmas. The special food eaten on this day is tamales, a typical Mexican delicacy made of corn and filling cooked in banana leaves.
History suggests that the Spanish brought this tradition with them when they came to the Latin America. And although it is celebrated in many countries with many varying takes on this tradition, Mexican people feel a very strong connection to this day. Some children will receive their presents from the 3 Kings on the 6th of January instead of Santa Claus on Christmas Day.
Epiphany or Three Kings's Day is ultimately a religious festivity as January the 6th is the day that the 3 Wise Men arrived to meet the baby Jesus for the first time. But more than anything it’s another opportunity to be with your family, eat together, celebrate together and share an old Mexican tradition. Much of Mexican life revolves around family, food and religion and what better way to experience this than to share a Rosca de Reyes with those you love most.
There’s something particularly heartwarming about this tradition. Whether it’s the sweetness of the bread offering a dose of happiness, the warmth of the hot chocolate warming your soul or the gathering of those you love most to celebrate once more during the festive season. That’s one of the things I love most about Mexican culture, the strong value placed on family life and coming together with cousins, grandparents, neighbors, family friends, the list goes on. While my family and friends in England have dispersed (including myself), Mexican families and their extended family members tend to stay much closer. While it would take an insane about of planning to get my family together from all corners of the country (and the globe), Mexicans value their close family time and this is but one example of a festivity that brings them together.
So, for those of you who are sad that Christmas appears to have finished for another year, what you need is a Rosca. What can be nicer than eating something that is circular in shape to represent God’s infinite love? Whether you are religious or not, there is something extremely comforting about taking a bite of something which has been made to symbolize pure, undying love. Be a part of this beautiful tradition and try some of this tasty sweet bread with a cup of hot cocoa this Sunday and enjoy the true warmth of Mexican culture.
Written by Harriet Sleath
Did you leave room for the Rosca de Reyes?
Christmas season not over yet...
For those of you who live in Mexico, it’s that time of year again. For those of you just visiting or if you’re new to Mexican traditions, welcome to another quite enjoyable festivity. You may have noticed the large round, colorful cakes appearing in supermarket aisles and bakery windows. These are the Rosca de Reyes and they are part of a beautiful, Christian holiday in many Hispanic countries.
It really depends who you talk to and who you end up sharing your Rosca with as to the story that you’ll be told. But here is everything that we think you need to know before embarking on your Rosca journey this weekend.
Rosca de Reyes, which literally translates as The Kings' Ring is a donut-shaped, sweet bread, topped with dried fig strips, chopped cherries, lemon peel slices, jelly pieces and sugar. It looks somewhat like a colorful crown and it is almost always accompanied by a delicious cup of hot chocolate.