BY GAIL GOLD
In the Catholic religion, a special day occurs on January 6th: Three Kings Day.
Children get presents and every home has a special bread called Rosca de Reyes, or Three Kings Bread. The bread is a Latino tradition eaten on Three Kings Day to celebrate the arrival of the wise men to see the Christ child.
I always buy one no matter where I am in the Hispanic world, whether that might be Mexico or Spain. Whoever gets the slice with the “muneca” has a good year ahead. I cut the gorgeous smelling yeast bread with its orange citrus flavor and got the “muneca.” Yay! I will have good luck. Tradition says I must host a party on February 2nd, 40 days after Christ’s birth.
History of the Rosca traces back to medieval France when a small bean was baked in the bread, hidden inside. Whoever found the bean would be crowned “king” for the day. When Catholicism adopted the tradition, the bean became a small plastic figure of the baby Jesus.
Today the Mexican panaderias (bakeries) offer the oval sweetbread. Each bread is enhanced with brightly colored fruit that has been candied or crystallized. These represent images of the gifts the three kings brought to the Christ child.
[Editors Note: The author celebrated Three Kings Day in Zihuatanejo, Mexico. Included below are some photos of her time there, tailor-made for wintertime daydreaming of warm weather, blue waters, and soft sands. ]