On the 6th January of each year, Christians from all around the world acknowledge/celebrate the day upon which baby Jesus was presented to the world.
The Twelfth Night (Epiphany) also marks a visit to the baby Jesus by The Magi, (the three Kings, or Wise Men). The word ‘Epiphany’ derives from Greek and signifies ‘manifestation’. It celebrates ‘the revelation of God in his Son as human in Jesus Christ’.
The single day festivities vary all over the the world. In the Spanish speaking world, Epiphany is known as ´Dia de los Reyes´ (Three Kings’ Day). In Mexico, for instance, families and/or close friends typically congregate together in the evening to eat the Rosca de Reyes – Kings’ bread and drink hot chocolate all together.
The Rosca de Reyes bread, is quite something! It is a sweet round or oval shape Mexican bread, normally rather larger to feed the big familes. The recipe for ´King cake´ vary from country to country. For decoration, figs, quinces, cherries or dried and candied fruits are typically used to decorate it.
Hidden within the bread, is a small white plastic Jesus figurine (sometimes other members of the nativity scene are hidden also, i.e. Mary and Joseph, etc). The tradition has it that whoever is ´lucky´ enough to find baby Jesus in their bread, has to buy tamales for the Candlemas party that is held on 2nd February. In addition, if the Wise Men (same as the Kings) have been hidden within the sweet bread, those that find them in their slice, pay for this fiesta on the 2nd!
This year I was invited to share the Rosca de Reyes with my ´adopted´ family here in Mexico, as all mine are in the UK (until next week when mum and dad come to visit,!). Guess who the lucky person was to find the baby Jesus in their bread…. yep, you guessed it. Wish me luck with making tamales!? Goodness knows how you do it…. think I´ll be educating myself through YouTube tutorials!
In some countries, such as Mexico and parts of Europe, children leave their shoes out the night before (5th January) to be filled with gifts from the Wise Men. Here in Mexico, this is when the children receive their main presents (rather than in the English tradition of receiving them on the 25th December) Similar to the tradition of leaving a mince pie, carrot and glass of milk for Father Christmas on Christmas Eve, some children leave straw for the three Kings’ horses.