In an earlier post, I took a photo of a family posing with the Three Kings instead of Santa Claus (because the Three Kings bring gifts), just another example of the Catholic Church’s influence upon life in Mexico. Well, here is my family taking its turn for this holiday tradition. We were at one of the major shopping malls when we found the photo booth with the Three Kings.
Another delightful tradition is the eating of Three Kings cake, Rosca de reyes, which is eaten on January 6 to celebrate Epiphany.
“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 Spain before children go to bed, they leave a dish filled with biscuits and a few glasses of water for the three wise men and the camels they ride on.” (Wikipedia)
A plastic figure of Baby Jesus is baked inside the cake. Here’s what I found in Wikipedia: “The baby Jesus hidden in the bread represents the flight of the Holy Family, fleeing from King Herod’s Massacre of the Innocents. 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 has the responsibility of hosting a dinner and providing tamales and atole to the guests.”
As it turned out, the family met at a restaurant on New Year’s Day to eat brunch and they had slices of Three Kings cake on the tables. My daughter-in-law Jessica was cutting the cake, and asked if I wanted a piece. “Sure!”
And then as I bit into the cake, I felt something hard in my mouth. You guessed it! I got the “baby Jesus!” (Except it sure didn’t look like a baby!) I was afraid everyone was going to make me pay for everybody for the brunch, but luckily, it was Dutch treat (about 15 people).
I’ve already written about the many examples of the Nativity used as Christmas decorations in Mexico, usually displayed from December 12 through February 2nd (Presentation of Jesus in the Temple). Here is the nativity scene at the Holiday Inn Express, next door to my hotel.
In researching Mexican Christmas traditions I also found out that the poinsettia originated in Mexico! They are called “noche buena,” the same words for Christmas Eve, and modern tradition says that the colorful flowers were presented to the Baby Jesus.
We fly back to Los Angeles tomorrow, and then it’s back to reality in Hawaii.