Wednesday, January 05, 2011

El Dia de Reyes, January 6

Ever since I can remember, my family has celebrated El Dia de Reyes, or the Epiphany, on January 6. This is the day Mexican families remember the arrival of the Three Wise Men in Bethlehem, bearing gifts for Baby Jesus. Although the tradition was not celebrated in the United States, my parents drove us across the border to Ciudad Juarez, to my aunt's house to partake of the goodies and Rosca de Reyes, an oval-shaped, sweet bread decorated with candied fruit, and tamales and hot chocolate mix called Champurrado. It was the day my cousins opened their Christmas gifts and the rest of us received brown bags filled with candy, peanuts and fruit, and a small gift. As a young child, I looked forward to this day because it meant we could open more gifts and visit with our cousins in Mexico. It also meant that whoever bit into the Rosca de Reyes and found a miniature, plastic Baby Jesus doll that had been inserted into the bread, would have to host a party on February 2nd, El Dia de la Candelaria, or Candlemas, extending the Christmas Holidays even more.

Now that I have my own family, I celebrate El Dia de Reyes. Luckily, the tradition is spreading across the border and now I can find the Rosca de Reyes at my local supermarket and bakery. At seven o'clock, on January 6, we gather around the Nativity scene to eat Rosca bread and sip hot chocolate. It is a time of storytelling and New Year resolutions. My children love the tradition, and look forward to biting into a piece of Rosca, hoping they will find the Baby Jesus doll. I can always look forward to our version of Candlemas party of peanut butter sandwiches and kool-aid treats!

To find out about El Dia de Reyes, visit:

contributor: Maria Miranda Maloney, poet and writer living in El Paso, Texas.

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