We investigate the origins of one of Mexico's favorite bakery items, the Rosca de Reyes. The Rosca de Reyes, a typical piece of Mexican bakery generally produced to honor the feast of the Epiphany of the Lord on January 6, also known as Da de Reyes according to Christian doctrine, is one of Mexico's significant traditions.
The Rosca de Reyes tradition arrived in Mexico during the Viceroyalty, and today there is a wide range of recipes to produce it. It is made with sweet dough, ornamented with dried or crystallized fruits, and images depicting the Child Jesus buried inside the dough.
As a result, we understand the actual significance of the Rosca de Reyes.
What exactly is the Rosca de Reyes?
The Rosca de Reyes, also known as the "Roscón de Reyes," is a post-Christmas bakery item prepared of sweet dough, topped with slices of dried or crystallized fruits, and scented with orange blossom water.
In specific locations, the Rosca de Reyes is filled with cream, cream, or chocolate and ceramic or plastic figures representing the Child Jesus, following Christian tradition.
The Rosca de Reyes's Origin
On January 6, it is usual in Mexico to commemorate Three Kings Day with a thread; nonetheless, this tradition dates back to the Romans. They hid a penny in a sweet during Saturn's festival, and whoever found "the treasure" became king for a day.
With the coming of Christianity, this ritual evolved into the Rosca de Reyes, which commemorates the biblical chapter in which the Magi follow the star of Bethlehem to locate the crib of the Child Jesus.
However, it wasn't until Louis XV's reign in France that the Rosca de Reyes became famous in Europe, becoming a ritual to honor the feast of the Epiphany of the Lord, commonly known as Kings Day. During the Viceroyalty, this ritual, which Spain introduced, arrived in Mexico.
What does the Rosca de Reyes mean?
According to legend, the Rosca de Reyes recalls the Magi's search for the Child Jesus, and its shape is reminiscent of the crowns worn by Melchor, Gaspar, and Baltazar. It is also related to God's eternal love, which has no beginning or end.
The dried and crystallized fruits resemble the encrusted gems of the Magi's crowns, while some see them as difficulties discovering the Child Jesus.
Finally, the plastic or ceramic figures buried inside the thread represent the Child Jesus and when the Virgin Mary and Joseph hid him from King Herod.
The Rosca de Reyes tradition arrived in Mexico with Spanish customs during the Viceroyalty, and now there are several recipes for making this Rosca.
Initially, the Rosca de Reyes was prepared using acitrón, but because this ingredient was challenging to find, later it was replaced in the recipe with other sorts of sweets. As a result, the custom in Mexico says that whoever finds the figure of the Child Jesus inside the bit of thread to be tasted is the one who must cook the tamales for Candlemas Day on February 2.
Interesting facts about the Rosca de Reyes
There are numerous interesting facts regarding the Rosca de Reyes, so here are a few things you probably didn't know:
- Every year, a vast Rosca de Reyes fiesta is held in Mexico City's Zócalo, with the 2013 thread being the biggest ever created, extending 1,440 meters and weighing 9,375 kg.
- Madrid is renowned as the Roscón de Reyes capital, with almost 2.5 million pieces consumed in the city each year.
- The Rosca de Reyes is known as "King's Bread" in the United States, a tradition passed down from French populations.