Day of the Epiphany (Three Kings’ Day?) away from Mexico

Following up on my series “Celebrating holidays away from Mexico”, after entries such as: a rant about Mexican food on independence day and day of the dead

January 6th is Día de Reyes, the last date of what we Mexicans know as the Guadalupe – Reyes marathon (which is, in short, an extended holiday period for eating and drinking that starts on December 12th)

Being away from home and still a bit bitter about not being able to go back home for the holidays because of COVID-19, I contacted my baker friend and ordered Rosca de Reyes (roughly translates to King’s baguel I guess). My Rosca de Reyes is slightly different from the traditional one but it’s a passable representation:

My Rosca de Reyes

Since we Mexicans are all about eating, these big baguels usually have buried within a couple of plastic figurines of baby Jesus Christ (or others to collect and complete the Epiphany scene), the catch is that whoever gets those will have to pay for tamales and atole (corn dough with different fillings and basically liquid corn) on February 2nd (Día de la Candelaria). Needless to say, hilarity ensues when people try to cheat their way out of paying up, rules are pretty clear on this regard:

  • everyone cuts their own piece
  • if a kid gets baby Jesus, the parents pick up that tab for tamales
  • to ensure no cheating you must cut you piece in half horizontally as well and show that both halves of the bread are clean
  • you pick up the tab if baby Jesus is visible in one of the adjacent pieces after cutting your own

Everyone has fun stories about this date, for example:

  • Legend says my grandfather on my father’s side of the family was sneaky and once swallowed baby Jesus.
  • My great-grandfather on my mother’s side of the family was a prankster and a baker, so instead of the usual amount of plastic figurines, he’d make sure that every piece had at least a couple…

If memory serves right there are similar traditions in other spanish speaking countries, in Europe the Spanish call it Roscón de Reyes and the French call it Galette des Rois.

I’d be interested to know about other countries traditions related to this date.

Day 41 of

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