Mexican Traditions: Cake and the Baby Jesus

9 Jan

Those of you who took high school Spanish might remember a popular Latin American holiday: El Dia de Reyes (or “Three Kings Day”).

Falling on January 6, this holiday is celebrated throughout Mexico. The three “Reyes Magos” (aka the Three Wise Men) bring gifts to little kids, Santa-Clause-style.

Another popular tradition on El Dia de Reyes is cutting the Rosca de Reyes (King’s Cake). If you find a tiny plastic Baby Jesus in your slice of cake, that means you have to bring tamales for everyone to enjoy on February 2nd, El Dia de la Candelaria (Candlemas Day).

This past Friday, my office department ordered our Rosca from a popular local bakery called Tere Cazola, complete with cream cheese filling. (yum!) I did not get the Baby Jesus figurine at our office Rosca-cutting! Saved!

My Jesus-less slice at the office

In the evening, however, Jorge and I were invited to a get-together with some of our friends. I wasn’t feeling well and stayed home, but Jorge cut my piece for me. Turns out I  got the Baby Jesus and will be one of the lucky 3 friends bringing tamales to our get-together on February 2nd.

My coworker's slice of Rosca, complete with Baby Jesus

In other words… El Dia de Reyes is a great excuse for Mexicans to throw TWO parties: the rosca-cutting on January 6th, and the follow-up tamale party on February 2nd. Gotta love Mexico, right?

Hopefully I’ll get to blog about all my tamale-parties on February 2nd! Can’t wait 🙂


14 Responses to “Mexican Traditions: Cake and the Baby Jesus”

  1. christinamatias January 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

    My birthday is on January 6th.I did not know about the baby jesus tradition though,neat!

  2. iris January 9, 2012 at 7:40 pm #

    It makes you kinda wonder where such a tradition came from? I mean, throwing Baby Jesus into a burning hot oven doesn’t really seem intuitive. History/culture weaves an interesting story 🙂

  3. Nikki January 9, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

    They do that in France too! But there are no tamales. I need to swap traditions.

  4. Kathryn January 9, 2012 at 10:20 pm #

    YUM! This looks/sounds a lot like New Orleans “king cake”- I think they have a similar tradition with putting baby Jesus in the cake, too. I’ve never actually tried it, but it look deelish (I’m down with anything that has cream cheese filling!)

    • Laura in Cancun January 10, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

      In Mexico they put cream cheese in EVERYTHING. It’s a magical place.

  5. KfromMichigan January 9, 2012 at 11:41 pm #

    I didn’t know about the Feb. 2 tradition, but have eaten the King’s cake (but no baby Jesus).

  6. Margaret@SingleandSane January 10, 2012 at 12:54 am #

    One of the advantages of our changing population should be incorporating this into American Christmas traditions! Sounds fun.

  7. The Drama Mama January 10, 2012 at 6:59 am #

    I have heard about the Baby Jesus in the kings cake, but I didn’t know the full tradition. It actually sounds fun.

    And I’ve always believed Mexicans were always ready for a good party. 😉

  8. Ashlie January 10, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

    What kind of tamales are you going to make for February 2nd? We were down in Playa and saw the longest Rosca de Reyes in the Riviera Maya.

  9. Krysten Hartenstein (@WeirdGirlBlog) January 10, 2012 at 5:01 pm #

    I am all for any tradition that involves parties, hehe.

  10. Kristi January 10, 2012 at 7:11 pm #

    The cake looks good (I love cream cheese!). Looks like a fun tradition!! Very similar to Mardi Gras king cake

  11. Josie January 15, 2012 at 3:52 am #

    I can’t believe how many fiestas there are here in México! It’s great. It seems like every month there is another specialty bread or dish. My fave is still Pan de Muertes 🙂

  12. GRRRL TRAVELER February 1, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

    OMG, this is so exciting and cool. I don’t know if I’d like to win the prize of treating everyone, but I think it’s kinda neat to have little symbolic and celebratory things hidden in your dishes!

  13. Ceri February 25, 2012 at 8:05 am #

    Ahh, Mexicans love an excuse for party. 😀

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