Holiday season in Mexico finishes up with the arrival of Los Reyes Magos on January 6. Día de Los Reyes Magos, or Three Wise Men (also Three Kings Day), is the day when the Kings arrived bearing gifts for just born baby Jesus. As in many other Mexican traditions this festive occasion is filled with great food, lots of presents and quality time with loved ones. This holiday is a traditional day of exchanging gifts, and in some families, the Three Kings traditionally bring more presents for the children than Santa. Traditionally, on the night before Three Kings day, each child puts on their doorstep a pair of their shoes so that when the Three Kings arrive they will know how many presents to leave.
One thing I love about this day is the “Merienda de Reyes” (light dinner), where we share Rosca de Reyes (or King’s cake). King’s cake is sweet bread in the shape of a circle, symbolizing a king’s crown. We enjoy the Rosca served along with corn Tamales and hot chocolate. According to the custom, small porcelain baby Jesus figurines are baked into the bread. They are hidden, which symbolizes the need to find a secure place where Jesus could be born, a place where King Herod would not find Him.
In my family we gather at the table and each of us cuts his own slice of Rosca. One by one we carefully inspect our slice, hopping not to get the figurine. Whoever gets the baby figurine will be the host, and invite everyone present, to a new celebration on February 2, when we celebrate the Día de la Candelaria or Candle mass day, with tamales and atole.
Do you celebrate Epiphany? I would love to hear of your traditions on this day.
Photo: LA76 Photography. Native scene (“nacimiento” in Spanish), photographed at Capella Pedregal Resort, in their privately held tunnel Dos Mares. Rosca de Reyes photo by Angélica Portales on Flickr. See Luxury Villa Collections’s managed Beach Casita at Capella Pedregal. Contact us for more information and bookings at firstname.lastname@example.org.