No home, office, school or reunion in Mexico let January 6th pass unnoticed. On this day, known as the Day of the Magi or of the Three Wise Men, tradition obliges you to share a “rosca”, a large ring-shaped pastry with a small doll hidden inside.
The doll embedded in the Rosca de Reyes represents Baby Jesus, and whoever is fortunate enough to find it in their slice of rosca acquires the commitment to give a party on the following February 2nd, Candlemas Day, a celebration where tamales and atole, a corn-flour dish and a corn-based drink, are a must on the menu.
Gold, Incense and Myrrh & many other gifts: Santa Claus bringing presents to Mexican children is actually very recent and is not the one that prevails in rural areas, nor in all the social spheres within our cities. Santa Claus might pay a visit, but the Three Kings will never fail to appear at dawn on January 6th, to keep – following their legendary journey carrying gifts and guided by a shiny guiding star, all the way to Bethlehem to worship Baby Jesus – their appointment with all our children.
The Kings finally arrive on January 6th: when the children wake up, anxiously opening the gifts that commemorate Epiphany, and later that evening everyone gathers to share the rosca de reyes. It is then that the Infant Jesus’ future godfather is designated.
The Great Tamale Party: Tradition has it that the responsibility of the godparents elected on January 6th shall dress up the Holy Baby. In days preceding the event, it was quite common to read signs on houses that offer services in that specialty: We dress “Holy Infants”. After having presented the Child at church, accompanied by those who shared the rosca, it is time to celebrate the occasion with a tamale feast offered by the godparents.
On January 7th the party is over, schools return to their schedules and all you can find in the trash cans are paper plates and small little dolls that surprised their discoverer.
Click HERE to read a lot more about the January 6th Celebration in Mexico.