During the era of the
kings of France, bread was filled with a lima bean, and
the person who found it in his bread would receive the
gift that His Highness had prepared for the event. The
idea was to place a lima bean in the bread dough, which
was usually filled with fruits like dates and raisins,
and this bread was shared around the time of the New
The tradition changed a bit
when it arrived to the Americas, transforming itself
according to the customs and resources of our country,
where it eventually became the rosca.
Here the rosca is decorated with pieces of
orange and lime, and is filled with nuts, figs, and
cherries. Hot chocolate accompanies the rosca.
So every year, on January
6, families all across Mexico gather around their tables
to share the rosca de reyes. And now,
instead of finding a lima bean in the bread, a little
plastic doll representing Jesus is placed in the bread.
The person who receives a piece of bread with this doll
inside has to make the tamales used in the fiesta de la
Candelaria on February 2. This
celebration is the last of the Christmas festivities, 40
days after Jesus's birth.
According to the story, the
three Wise Men (called in that time "magicians",
although they were actually astronomers) saw from the
far east the birth of a star over the town of Bethlehem,
and they discovered the meaning behind the star: a
savior had been born. They traveled to Bethlehem, and
along the way they found the King Herod, whom they told
of the birth of the new King. Herod ordered them to
find the baby and return to give the news of the place
where the little Messiah had been born.
The three wise men found
the baby in a manger, adored by shapers, and they
offered him three gifts: gold, which represented the
spiritual wealth of the child; frankincense, which
signifies the earth and the sky; and Myrrh, the oil
which was used for medicinal as well as spiritual
purposes. Upon their return, an angel warned
them that they should not tell King Herod about the
birth of Jesus because his plan was to kill the baby.
So the three wise men returned by way of a different
path to their homeland.
So every year we celebrate
the Epifanía (manifestation) of God on
earth to the Reyes Magos...who were
neither kings nor magicians.
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