Saturday, January 5, 2013

Holiday traditions in Maltrata: Three Kings Day

January 6th is el Día de los Reyes Magos, or Three Kings Day / Day of the Wisemen, the day that the three wisemen arrived bearing gifts for the baby Jesus. Traditionally in Maltrata, the 3 wise men are who bring the children’s presents on January 6th, though nowadays Santa frequently leaves a gift on December 25th as well. On January 5th I saw lots of children with balloons that they would attach their letter to and send to the wisemen – similar to letters to Santa I suppose, but slightly more tied into the Biblical story. (Generally for Christians in the US, January 6th is recognized as Epiphany and the day that the Wise Men arrived, though it is not celebrated to the same extent as it is in Maltrata and other parts of Mexico). 

On Three Kings Day, people share a rosca, a bread in the shape of a circle or oval with at least one baby Jesus figurine hidden inside. Whoever finds the baby Jesus in their piece is supposed to provide the tamales and the chocolate (like hot chocolate) or atole (a masa-based drink) for everyone on February 2nd, which is Día de la Candelaria (Candlemas or the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple). 

the rosca 

my little buddy pretending to cut the rosca

Guess who got the baby Jesus in their piece of the rosca

That’s right – me! I said I could buy tamales or help make them, but had no idea how to do it on my own. It didn’t matter though, since we went to the fair in neighboring Aquila on February 2nd anyway.

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