Mexican Traditions: Cake and the Baby Jesus

Those of you who took high school Spanish might remember a popular Latin American holiday: El Dia de Reyes (or “Three Kings Day”).

Falling on January 6, this holiday is celebrated throughout Mexico. The three “Reyes Magos” (aka the Three Wise Men) bring gifts to little kids, Santa-Clause-style.

Another popular tradition on El Dia de Reyes is cutting the Rosca de Reyes (King’s Cake). If you find a tiny plastic Baby Jesus in your slice of cake, that means you have to bring tamales for everyone to enjoy on February 2nd, El Dia de la Candelaria (Candlemas Day).

This past Friday, my office department ordered our Rosca from a popular local bakery called Tere Cazola, complete with cream cheese filling. (yum!) I did not get the Baby Jesus figurine at our office Rosca-cutting! Saved!

My Jesus-less slice at the office

In the evening, however, Jorge and I were invited to a get-together with some of our friends. I wasn’t feeling well and stayed home, but Jorge cut my piece for me. Turns out I  got the Baby Jesus and will be one of the lucky 3 friends bringing tamales to our get-together on February 2nd.

My coworker's slice of Rosca, complete with Baby Jesus

In other words… El Dia de Reyes is a great excuse for Mexicans to throw TWO parties: the rosca-cutting on January 6th, and the follow-up tamale party on February 2nd. Gotta love Mexico, right?

Hopefully I’ll get to blog about all my tamale-parties on February 2nd! Can’t wait 🙂

22 thoughts on “Mexican Traditions: Cake and the Baby Jesus

  1. It makes you kinda wonder where such a tradition came from? I mean, throwing Baby Jesus into a burning hot oven doesn’t really seem intuitive. History/culture weaves an interesting story 🙂

    • The baby Jesus figurine represents Jesus when he was hiding from King Herod, so the person who finds the baby jesus in the rosca is symbolically his godparent.. it is rather interesting!!

  2. YUM! This looks/sounds a lot like New Orleans “king cake”- I think they have a similar tradition with putting baby Jesus in the cake, too. I’ve never actually tried it, but it look deelish (I’m down with anything that has cream cheese filling!)

  3. I have heard about the Baby Jesus in the kings cake, but I didn’t know the full tradition. It actually sounds fun.

    And I’ve always believed Mexicans were always ready for a good party. 😉

  4. I can’t believe how many fiestas there are here in México! It’s great. It seems like every month there is another specialty bread or dish. My fave is still Pan de Muertes 🙂

  5. OMG, this is so exciting and cool. I don’t know if I’d like to win the prize of treating everyone, but I think it’s kinda neat to have little symbolic and celebratory things hidden in your dishes!

  6. I love this tradition and I know a great place to get tamales for free its awesome when I get the baby because I don’t have to buy the tamales I get them for FREE!!!!!

  7. don’t be hatin on Mexicans ceri like chill its a tradition not an excuse if you don’t like it get a life and don’t be a hater bitch

    • Julia, you may want to open your mind the tiniest bit. Pretty sure Ceri was not being, as you ignorantly called her, a “hater bitch”. Like several other people fairly pointed out, Mexican traditions are plentiful and include a lot of celebrations and fun food and customs. Looks a little to me like you’re the one “hating”. And on that note, punctuation helps in reading and the only people that still talk about “hating” are 13 year olds lacking confidence. Eat a tamale and relax heifer. Its hard to be a negative judgemental ass when eating delicious food.

  8. If I would have known I was going to bite into the plastic baby I never would have eaten the Cake. 🙂 Now I am stuck buying tamales for the whole working staff. That was an expensive piece of cake 🙂

  9. This is a Spanish tradition… not just a “Mexican tradition”. To clarify, the February part is the Mexican addition to the tradition… but the king cake is a Spanish one which is also done in France, Portugal, and many Latin countries. So no, it’s not an excuse for Mexicans to party. The Latin culture has a lot of traditions with a good story behind them a beautiful meaning.

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