In Minneapolis, the bakeries on East Lake Street are full of the best baked goods. Conchas, tres leches, empanadas, and chilindrinas to name a few.
There’s no better feeling than walking into a panadería and having that scent of sweet bread embrace you.
Around this time of year, however, you may notice a special kind of bread in the cases.
What makes it special? There’s a little baby inside!
No, not an actual baby but a tiny plastic doll.
It’s usually hidden somewhere inside the candied bread known as Rosca de Reyes. It’s a very common commodity that accompanies El Día de Los Reyes (Three Kings Day or Epiphany).
Eating this delicious treat (and finding the plastic baby boll inside) is one of the many ways you can celebrate this holiday! Keep reading to find out how you can get in on the festivities.
Also, don’t you want to know why there’s a tiny baby in your bread!?
¿What is El Día de Los Reyes?
The Three Kings are known as the Wise Men who brought gifts to baby Jesus. This holiday is celebrated throughout Europe and Latin America on the 6th of January.
Well, we just survived Christmas and New Year’s, so your wallet probably doesn’t like the sound of the word “gift.” This celebration, however, doesn’t have to just be about presents.
I spoke with mothers who celebrate Los Reyes and asked how their families honor this tradition. As a new mother incorporating culture into her son’s life, I wanted to know what this holiday could mean for Chris, Javier, and myself.
It’s not just about giving and receiving gifts but passing a culture down to the next generation. If you’re learning Spanish, there are plenty of chances to add some language-learning opportunities to this fun celebration!
Rosca de Reyes
What is La Rosca de Reyes?
The Rosca represents a crown and its flavor is regal! In Mexico, it’s custom to has involved into something a little different that involves a plastic baby doll!
What Happens If You Bite the Baby in La Rosca de Reyes?
One day my husband Javier came home and told me he owed his friends some tamales. When I asked why, he told me it was because he bit a baby. Eventually we got over the confusion when he explained to me that it is custom to place a small baby doll inside of the Rosca. It represents baby Jesus.
If you’re unfortunate enough to end up with a little toy in your piece of bread, prepare to treat everyone to some tamales in February for el día de la Calendaria (Candlemas Day).
This is how it is in Mexico. In other countries, getting the baby doll means you receive presents!
This recipe is in Spanish so you can have fun and bake at the same time. There are also plenty of recipes online in English. If anything, you can always learn some new words from this recipe here! I find that when you learn and play it’s easier to remember words.
If you don’t feel like whipping out a whisk and bowl, how about getting out pen and paper?
Wishlist to the Kings
Who Are Los Reyes (the 3 Kings)?
There are 3 reyes or kings: Capsar, Melthizar, y Balthazar.
Caspar is from the middle east, Balthazar hails from Africa, and Melthizar from Europe.
On camels these three kings traced the North Star to the birthplace of Jesus Christ. The birth is also known as the a “manifestation” of God, hence why the holiday is sometimes know as epifinia or manifestación.
In some countries, people hold parades where individuals dressed as the three wise men participate to the part of the three wise men go out to greet children.
What Will the Wisemen Bring Your Family?
To practice writing in Spanish, you can have your child write a wishlist to his favorite King.
Start the list out with “Queridos Reyes Magos” or “Reyes Magos Wishes,” and practice asking for things from there! You can be as creative as you want. Here’s an example of very selfless yet humorous letter.
Ways to start your letter:
- Me gustaría…
- Yo quiero…
- Por favor trále…
- Para este año voy a pedir un(a)…
Don’t just have your child list things. Ask why he wrote down what he did. Ask what he would wish for if he could have something different. Of course this can apply for adults too. Have fun writing!
DIY Decorations and Gifts
Grab some markers, crayons, and paper to make easy decoraciónes like crowns and camels! Families even make grass boxes so the camels that the wisemen rode in on have something to eat. Isn’t that hospitable?
Even the costumes, which some children and even grown-ups like to dress up in, can be easily done with a robe and a paper crown. Get creative and recreate a nativity scene!
Los Reyes Magos Around the World
Is it necessary to spend money on games and toys for the children around this time of year? I went on a Facebook group called Teach Your Kids Spanish (Enseñar español a tus hijos) and some moms there!
I highly recommend joining the group to get tips on raising children bilingual! Or just checking out the site (Spanish Mama) in general. It’s a wonderful resource.
Huge thanks to the lovely ladies who provided me with these wonderful words about how they celebrate Los Reyes Magos!
Les tengo un regalo pequeño junto con chocolates/caramelos y les digo que los tres Reyes magos han venido desde oriente para dejarles un regalito como hicieron con El Niño Jesús. Los despierto antes si tienen que ir al colegio para abrir los regalos y les preparo un bizcocho o un desayuno un poco más especial. Por la tarde llamamos a la familia en España para ver qué tal han pasado el día de reyes y que han recibido
En PR es un día feriado. En la vįspera, los niños recojen pasto/yerba y agua para los camellos, yo solía ponerlo cerca o debajo de mi cama y al amanecer ‘aparecian’ los regalos. El 6 de enero hay personas vestidas de reyes, dandole regalos a los niños, hay desfiles en muchos pueblos y las familias se reunen para celebrar con comida típica. Yo no celebro el día desde que vivo en US pero le hablo a mi niña sobre los Reyes magos
In my country it is celebrated, but our family doesn’t partake. We go to the cavalcade where the three kings come down the street, as well as other flotillas and hand out sweets to the children. Other families may give gifts on 6th January; it’s quite common here but we aren’t a catholic family so we don’t
We are still figuring out how to celebrate it in our family. We live in the US and family is not close. We make a rosca and hide the little baby Jesus in there and eat the rosca until each is found. The tradition is the person or people who find them keep them until a certain day in February and they are responsible for making tamales for everyone.
What willl the three wise men bring your family this year?
My sister-in-law asked me, “¿Que le trajieron a Christopher?”
In all honesty, Chris doesn’t need any more gifts but we treated him to some Rosca from Lake Street’s Mercado Central!
You can get a nicely sized one for about $30.00. That’s enough bread to last a while! I’m still hacking off pieces from ours.
And don’t forget to break the bread before your bite into it or you might bite baby Jesus!
How will you celebrate Los Reyes Magos?