Friday, January 06, 2006

El Día de Reyes * Three Kings Day

Just before 9:00 p.m. we went to Blanca’s niece and nephew’s house to celebrate El Día de Reyes (Three Kings Day). January 6, the Epiphany, remembers when the Three Wise Men following the star to Bethlehem, arrived bearing their treasured gifts for the Baby Jesus. A couple of days earlier, children write letters to the Wise Men, asking for presents. Before going to bed on the night of January 5, children place their old shoes under their bed or in the living room, where the Wise Men then leave them their presents. All over the country bakeries (from the smallest stands on the street to Wall-Mart and Sam’s Club) sell Rosca de Reyes of all sizes, an oval sweetbread that’s decorated with candied fruit.

This tradition of celebrating the Epiphany comes from Spain and the contributions from the New World include the tradition of serving tamales and hot chocolate with the traditional pastry. At our festivity we had hot chocolate that was heavenly, but a bit difficult to drink as I was already sweating in Colima’s heat. The fun part of having a Rosca is that hidden inside are plastic figurines of the Baby Jesus – the number depending on the size of the bread, there were three hidden in ours. The figurine is hidden to symbolize the need to find a secure place where Jesus could be born, a place where King Herod would not find him.

Each person takes a turn slicing a piece, hoping not to get the figurine. At our festivities everyone kept teasing each other, “I see it,” “You got it.” The eleven-year-old kept saying, “That’s not true.” The slices are carefully inspected as whoever gets the baby figurine will be the host, and invite everyone present to the next celebration on February 2, Candelaria, or Candle mass day, and get a new dress for the Baby Jesus of the Nativity scene. Of course each family has its own traditions, so those who had a figurine in their piece - Blanca, Scarlett and Astrid’s husband – will bring food to the celebration, but none of these family members have a nativity scene in their home. February 2 concludes the Mexican Christmas season, when the nativity scene is put away and another family dinner, usually consisting of tamales and hot chocolate, is served.

We stayed together until almost midnight, some of us playing the eleven-year-old Aniela’s new game of Disney Monopoly, the Spanish edition. Others watched a “telenovela”(soap opera) and then the news and there was a group gathered outside as well.

The information on Día de Reyes comes from: