Dia de Los Reyes Magos, the Epiphany, is when Latin American countries remember the day that the Three Wise Men or Three Kings, followed the star to Bethlehem and arrived bearing their treasured gifts of gold, incense and myrrh for Baby Jesus. Many families also bring children gifts and leave them in a box with grass symbolizing gifts from the Kings.
Many Mexican families celebrate this day with a Rosca de Reyes, a large sweet bread with hidden Baby Jesus or el Niño dolls baked inside. Tradition is that whoever finds the dolls must cook for the rest of the family on February 2nd to celebrate el Dia de Calendaria. The Roscas can be bought at most Mexican bakeries and they come in different sizes.
Its a tradition that we didn’t always celebrate growing up mainly because my Chicana mom hadn’t grown up celebrating it in her family. Like many Mexican Americans, this was a traditional Mexican holiday to which we could not relate. Many of our parents and grandparents were encouraged to not be or act Mexican so that they could “fit in” and be accepted in America. So these traditions died in many families.
We started celebrating it more once my cousins immigrated to the US. They taught us more about the tradition and I am so grateful that they did.
So no matter if you’re a Pocha, Chicana, Mexicana, first generation, 10th generation Latina, whatever; make this tradition yours. There’s no shame in celebrating our culture as we learn it.
We believe that learning more about and living our culture is a beautiful thing. As we had our own children, we have made it a point to enjoy it together, every year, no matter what. We have made the commitment that we want our children to love their culture, understand it and pass it on to their children.
In our family, we can’t wait to cut the Rosca together to find the Baby Jesus doll. Everyone has to cut the Rosca, one by one, we laugh at each person’s reaction to whether they got the doll or not. Some of my fondest memories are of the kids giggling as we cut through it. My Goddaughter would run out and show us her carefully protected collection of baby Jesus dolls because she would get it almost every year. Of course, when the kids got the Baby Jesus doll, it would still be the Mamis cooking the family meal in February. Now, our children are teenagers so my hope is that they can get the Baby Jesus AND cook this year!
Alma V. Marquez
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