On January 6, families and friends gathered around the continent to take part of a 300 year-old tradition.
Día de los Reyes is traditionally celebrated twelve days after Christmas. Similar to Christmas, children expect to receive presents from los Reyes Magos (the three wise men) who brought the presents of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to newborn Jesus. In preparation for los Reyes Magos, children leave their shoes outside filled with hay and water for the animals that los Reyes ride on.
La Rosca de Reyes (king’s bread/cake) is usually served for merienda along with chocolate caliente or atole. The round shape of the bread evokes the crowns worn by los Reyes Magos while the colorful dried fruit signifies the crown jewels. Others extend the metaphor of the circular shape to the symbolism of the eternal love for God, which has no beginning nor end.
Arguably the most significant part of la rosca is the appearance of a plastic infant Jesus. If the plastic doll appears when cutting a slice from the bread, then the person who found the plastic doll must host a feast on February 2, otherwise known as Candlemas Day. On February 2, the people who were sharing the rosca rejoin again to eat tamales and drink atole. Sometimes there will be more than one plastic figurine hidden in la rosca, which helps reduce the cost and work of the festivities on February 2nd.
While some families prefer to avoid getting the plastic doll, it is actually considered good luck to find the baby Jesus — it is believed that finding the plastic doll is a sign of prosperity.
Other traditions include hiding a ring and a thimble. It is said that the person who finds the ring will be the next to get married, and the person who finds the thimble will spend the rest of the year single.