As a multi-cultural household, we feel extra blessed when it comes to celebrations. Not only do we have the typical American holidays to look forward to, but we observe many Mexican traditions as well! One of the most anticipated holidays in our home is "Dia de los Reyes" Or "Three Kings Day."
Typically referred to as Epiphany by those who observe the Liturgical calendar, Dia de los Reyes is a Christian "feast day" that celebrates the revelation of God incarnate as the baby Jesus. In Mexican culture (and many other Latin cultures as well), it is celebrated as a little Christmas, with gifts given by the Kings, and not Santa. In typical Mexican fashion, there is a special dish to look forward to, beautiful symbolism to point everyone back to Jesus and the night is rounded out with a fun game of chance.
After dinner and any gift giving, it is customary to enjoy a "Rosca de Reyes". The Rosca de Reyes is an elaborately decorated pan dulce (or sweet bread) in the shape of a ring. It is ring shaped to represent a crown, and decorated with dried and candied fruits to mimic jewels. Inside the pastry is a hidden item; a plastic baby Jesus doll nicknamed "El Nino" (sidenote: Please imagine the "n" with a tilde over it. I can't make this blogging platform type it properly and it's driving me nuts, lol.) El Nino is hidden to symbolize hiding the baby Jesus from King Herod. Everyone enjoys their piece of pan dulce (usually with Mexican hot chocolate or a thickened hot chocolate called champurrado) while secretly hoping the nino isn't hiding in their piece! Don't get me wrong...we all want to find Jesus in every other place, just not in the rosca, because finding El Nino means making tamales for the next gathering on February 2nd! (I'll break that one down another time, lol!)
Our rosca was from Vallarta Supermarkets this year and although it wasn't the prettiest, it was DELICIOUS. It had a guayaba and cream cheese filling and was so moist and tasty. As good as it was, I was so bummed to discover that there was a tiny Mexican market here in town selling roscas too. I had the hubs brings ours from our hometown thinking I wouldn't find one here and it was a bummer to find them there one day too late. I am glad, however, to know that I have a new place to check out and support. :)
As good as the pastry is, I always find the nino, and this year was no exception. Not that it matters, really, because I would surely make the tamales no matter what. Ha! It's all in good fun, of course, and I love that it keeps the Christmas season alive for just a bit longer. We had our nativity up until the 6th, and saved the baby Jesus "in a place of honor", where He will be kept until February 2nd, for Dia de Las Candelarias. I look forward to sharing that tradition with you also. :) I just love how so many Mexican traditions are Christ-centered. I feel like there's always a new reason to celebrate around here and we wouldn't have it any other way!
We always enjoy our Rosca de Reyes with Abuelita hot chocolate and I thought I'd give you my recipe for that while I'm sittin' here chatting about it. :) If you got the baby too, check out my cookbook in our shop, which has a great tamale recipe!
Do you celebrate Dia de los Reyes? If so, what are your family's traditions?
Abuelita Mexican Hot Chocolate Recipe
4 cups whole milk (plus a little extra later on)
1/2 of a ceylon cinnamon stick (you know its ceylon if you can break it.)
1 tsp vanilla (I prefer Mexican vanilla)
1 disk Abuelita Mexican Chocolate
In a medium sauce pan, combine milk, cinnamon and vanilla. Heat milk mixture over med/low heat until it *just* simmers. You don't want it to boil. Stir constantly so that it doesn't stick. Once the milk is up to temp, add the chocolate and begin whisking. Some recipes will encourage you to break or grate the chocolate first but there's really no need. it will melt really fast. Whisk over med/low heat (turning it down if it starts to stick) for as long as it takes to melt. Whisk, whisk, whisk!! If you want a really traditional chocolate, get your hands on a wooden molinillo (that wooden whisk up there in the picture) and roll it between your hands, creating froth. Looking for a more modern approach? Get yourself an Ikea milk frother and give it a good buzz. ;) The frothier the better! (It is said that women in Mexico used to be judged by potential Mother-in-Law's on their frothing ability, lol! I'd be in trouble without Ikea.)
Serve immediately with a splash of milk to cool it down quick for younger drinkers. :) Enjoy with fresh pan dulce, a warm bolillo or just as it is!
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