Could the story behind the Rosca de Reyes be any more exciting?
It was a dark and stormy Catholic Epiphany and day of los Tres Reyes Magos. Baby Jesus decides to hide from Herod in a giant round ring of sugary bread. A knife (aka – all the danger he is in) gets closer and closer with every piece eaten. All of a sudden… CHOMP! Someone bites down on his little plastic head! Oh no – now that person has to make tons of tamales for everyone on the 2nd of February. At least by then plastic baby Jesus would have brushed off the crumbs and will be waiting for a whole new wardrobe.
If you couldn’t follow along, not to worry, it is a Catholic and very Laredo tradition for January 6th. Interesting traditions we see not only on the border but all over the Americas. Inside-Mexico.com has a better explanation and even a recipe if you are not going to buy a Rosca de Reyes at the
bait & switch local HEB.
The Merienda de Reyes is truly a multicultural event. The Spaniards brought the tradition of celebrating the Epiphany and sharing the Rosca to the New World. The Rosca is served along with Tamales, made of corn which was the pre-Hispanic food per excel lance, and hot chocolate. Chocolate is also a gift from the native peoples of the New World.
Hidden inside this delicious Rosca, a plastic figurine of the Baby Jesus. The Baby is hidden because it symbolizes the need to find a secure place where Jesus could be born, a place where King Herod would not find Him.
Each person cuts a slice of the Rosca . The knife symbolizes the danger in which the Baby Jesus was in. One by one the guests carefully inspect their slice, hopping they didn’t get the figurine. Whoever gets the baby figurine shall be the host, and invite everyone present to a new celebration on February 2, Candelaria or Candle mass day, and he also shall get a new Ropón or dress for the Baby Jesus of the Nativity scene.
As many know, the Rosca de Reyes is also known as the Three King’s cake and the Dia de los Reyes Magos is the Three Kings day, visit of the Magi. In many Latin American countries, this is the day that children get small gifts if they leave grass/hay in their shoes under their bed for the Magi’s camels to eat. The traditions vary and you don’t hear it as often in Laredo as much as I did up North where there was more of a Puerto Rican, Cuban and Mexican (from the interior) influence.
Whatever your tradition, I am sure we all can agree – January 6 is the day to take down your Christmas decorations. If it is not down by the 6th, I am already predicting that they are not coming down at all – flojos!