Rosca de Reyes - Kings Cake

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Once upon a time, not long ago, I dated someone of Mexican descent.  My point in mentioning this is to write about one of the traditions I learned while we were together.  See, I am an American, born in New Jersey who follows typical American traditions with a little Puerto Rican twist. This was due to the fact that my parents were both part of the same generation of Puerto Ricans, raised in America.

So for example, Thanksgiving dinner typically consists of not just turkey but also a pernil, not just mashed potatoes but also arroz con gandules and that's to name a few.  I was also taught that Christmas came on Dec 25th and its polite to leave milk and cookies for Santa as visits via the chimney to leave gifts to to good and put coal in the socks of the bad (this is why I felt like I had to create at least a FAUX FIREPLACE for Christmas 2010). Then there was the Three Kings Day, a day in January that my Grandmother seemed very adamant about giving us (kids) gifts.  She would bring us to a Catholic Spanish mass but a a child with English being my primary language, I couldn't keep up with or understand the Lector, and so I barely understood what it meant, but the after party was a fun and unforgettable event where three men dressed as the Three Kings would give out gifts to the children.  As far as in school, all I remembered is that we were taught about the arrival of the Three Kings, something about the Star in the East and that they came bearing gifts of frankincense and myrrh.  

Well, the tradition that I learned, is a Spanish tradition which is associated with the Three Kings Day and it's how I experienced the ROSCA de REYES.  I am glad that I had the opportunity to learn about that piece of Spanish tradition so that one day, hopefully, I can incorporate it into the traditions that I teach and enjoy with all of my family.  It's a lot of fun and a great way to host family get-togethers that are kid friendly, have meaning and aren't only about someones birthday, graduation or marriage etc.  [Wow! I have a reason almost all year round to have some kind of celebration.  Starting with my son's birthday in September, Halloween in October, Thanksgiving in November, Christmas in December, Three Kings in January and Early February, My Birthday in February, My Partners birthday and Easter in March, Memorial Day in May and the 4th of July.  That's without counting everyone Else's birthday!!]

In a nutshell on January 6th, the family and friends get together and celebrate the Three Kings Dday by giving gifts to the children and eating cake with some hot chocolate.  This cake, "the rosca" has a little figurine of a child baked inside.  When the cake is presented the people in the party they take turns cutting off a slice of the cake.  The person who receives the figurine is supposed to host the next get together on Feb 2nd and also visit the church to bring the figurine there.

According to the WIKIPEDIA ::

""Rosca de reyes or roscón de reyes (kings' ring) is a Spanish and Spanish American king's cake pastry traditionally eaten to celebrate Epiphany.
Although the name indicates that it should be round, the “rosca de reyes” generally has an oval shape due to the need to make cakes larger than 30cm across for larger parties. Recipes vary from country to country. For decoration, fig fruit, quinces, cherries or dried and candied fruits are used.
It is traditionally eaten on January 6, during the celebration of the "Día de Reyes" (literally "Kings' Day"), which commemorates the arrival of the three Magi or Wise Men. In most of Spain, Spanish America, and sometimes, Hispanic communities in the United States, this is the day when children traditionally get presents, which are attributed to the Three Wise Men (and not Santa Claus or Father Christmas). In Mexico before children go to bed, they leave their shoes outside filled with hay or dried grass for the animals the Wise Men ride, along with a note.
The tradition of placing a trinket (figurine of the Christ Child) in the cake is very old. The baby Jesus, when hidden in the bread, represents the flight of Jesus, fleeing from King Herod's evil plan to kill all babies that could be the prophesied messiah. Whoever finds the baby Jesus figurine is blessed and must take the figurine to the nearest church on February 2, Candlemas Day (Día de la Candelaria). In the Mexican culture, this person also has to throw a party and provide tamales and atole to the guests.
In Spain, due to commercial interests, roscones bought in cake shops hide in their interior a figure - either of Jesus or others like little toys for kids and a dry faba bean. Whoever finds the figure is crowned and becomes the "king" or "queen" of the banquet, whereas whoever finds the bean has to pay next year's roscón. ""


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