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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Rosca de Reyes on the menu for millions across Mexico

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Just like last year, this year’s trend is for smaller, and sometimes even individually sized Roscas de Reyes. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Given rising COVID-19 numbers, this year many in Mexico are choosing to celebrate Jan. 6th at home with their family, instead of attending any large parties. 

The celebration is a Mexican tradition that takes place after Christmas to mark Three King’s Day, also called the Epiphany, which celebrates the biblical appearance of the wise men in Bethlehem. It’s officially celebrated Sunday, Jan. 6 — although the days leading up to it can also bring celebrations.

In several parts of Mexico, especially in Mexico City, children receive gifts from the Three Kings, in much the same way that others get presents on Christmas eve from Santa Clause. 

Inside the pastry lay two or three small plastic figures depicting baby Jesus. Finding the plastic figure in the pastry obliges one to offer up Tamales on the day of Candlemas, (Fiesta de la Candelaria) a Catholic festivity held Feb. 2.

But for most people in Yucatán the celebration is most closely associated with the eating of the “Rosca de Reyes” — a circular pastry adorned with candied fruit.

In years past, hotel chains and bakery guilds across Mexico have attempted to outdo each other by baking the world’s largest Rosca de Reyes. In 2018 this honor was taken by Yucatán for a mind-blowing 2 kilometer (1.6 miles) long pastry. 

Earlier: Stuffed eggplant, the Yucatecan way

Though Rosca purists insist on the importance of sticking to the original recipe, calling for little more than dried fruit, bakers continue to up the anty by adding ever large amounts of fillings including hazelnut spread, cookie dough, and cream cheese. 

Last year, conservatives denounced the use of small plastic “Baby Yodas,” instead of figures of the infant Jesus in Roscas across Mexico.

Given this year’s smaller celebrations, many households are choosing to purchase smaller Roscas. But given the cooler temperatures, it’s likely that much traditional Mexican hot chocolate will be enjoyed to wash the pastry down. 

Perhaps also contributing to the trend towards smaller Roscas is their ballooning cost, an unfortunate side-effect of economic inflation. The price for a family size Rosca de Reyes in 2022 can vary widely depending on its quality, filling, and toppings but ranges between 200 and 600 pesos.

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