The arrival of the Three Wise Men, Kings Melchior, Balthazar, and Gaspar is January 6, according to the Catholic calendar, symbolizing the ending of the Christmas festivities. But for some, this date has very particular meanings.
La Rosca de Reyes or King Cake
The visit of the Three Magi signifies a deeply rooted tradition among Hispanics. It's the popular Rosca de Reyes, a sort of a crown adorned with dried and caramelized fruit, whose colors are similar to the jewels of the so-called 'Kings', representing peace, love, and happiness.
Its interior hides a figure representing Baby Jesus or Niño Jesús, which recalls the moment in which Joseph and Mary hid Jesus to save him from King Herod.
"'Rosca' is a Hispanic symbol," said Héctor Carrera, originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, and who is one of the master bakers at Panadería Pancho Anaya, a fifth generation bakery, whose main plant is located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. "There is no Epiphany without Roscas. They are our traditions."
This year, the bakery is expected to make 2,000 Roscas, one of the most requested products this time of the year," he said. "Many people just come to buy Roscas", he added. "It's a very nice tradition."
Carrera explained that the custom dictates that the person who finds the Baby Jesus or the little doll should provides a party with tamales on February 2, the date on which commemorates the day of the Virgen de la Candelaria.
"Each Rosca has at least three little baby dolls," he said. "The Rosca will be cut and then each person takes a piece. Nobody will know where the baby is, It's a surprise."
For Armando Sánchez, native of Tampico, Mexico, and pastry chef at a bakery located in Southwest Tulsa, the decoration of the Rosca is "an art", adding that "preparing the Rosca takes many hours, but it is one of my favorite tasks"
Sánchez added that "there is nothing better than enjoying a Rosca when we are away from our countries. It brings good memories."
Taste a piece of tradition ... eat a Rosca de Reyes.
Photos by Juan Miret