Culture

The Rosca De Reyes Is A Mexican Classic But Do You Know The Story Behind It?

Christmas and end of year celebrations vary across the world. But Latinos, Mexicans in particular, get a little extra time for the holiday season, which extends into the first week of January due to a celebration that involves some of the best things in life: pastry, chocolate and family. 

So, if you come from a Mexican family you know the holiday season does not end on New Year’s Eve, but on January 6.

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Yes, known as Dia de Reyes or Wise Men’s Day, this holiday celebrates the presents that according to scripture Baby Jesus received gifts from three travelers that were guided by the Star of Bethlehem. This translates into yet more presents for Latino kids and a family celebration that involves eating a very important pastry. 

Introducing La Rosca de Reyes!

It is basically a brioche style huge oval shaped string of deliciousness. It is filled with candied fruits, which also decorate the top. Most importantly, though, it contains at least one but often multiple figurines of a baby representing a newly born Jesus. The family goes around the table taking turns and cutting into the rosca. Expectations mount as each guest reveals whether or not they got the muñeco. Some people love to find it while others really hate it.

It is usually passed down with a very Mexican hot chocolatito.

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The Rosca de Reyes celebration usually involves making a delicious Mexican hot chocolate, a traditional beverage that highlights the indigenous origin of chocolate, an ingredient that has become perhaps the most popular flavor in the world. Like really, what would the world be without chocolate? So get your Abuelita tablets ready and get ready to froth some milk. 

With el muñeco comes a great responsibility… 

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Whoever gets el muñeco (how the Jesus figurine is commonly called) has to buy tamales for the whole family come the day of the Virgin of Candelaria, which is celebrated on February 2nd. Some people even keep the baby figurine in their mouth to escape from the responsibility and expense of getting some hot tamales for a crowd. During February 2 Mexico becomes tamale central and you are able to find them even in supermarkets. In the US we are sure that you can buy them in specialty shops or, if you are lucky enough, perhaps there is a tamale cart in your neighborhood. 

The Rosca de Reyes has its origin in colonial times, as a Medieval Catholic tradition was passed on to what was then New Spain.

There are numerous theories about the symbolism of the Rosca de Reyes. Some think that the oval shape resembles a king’s crown, while others argue that it represents the infinite love towards God. The tradition finds its origin in medieval France, where a pagan tradition dictated that during the festivals a king was to be chosen through a process in which a broad bean was hidden in a sweet pastry and whoever found it would be named the pretend king. The tradition is still being followed in France, where an almond based pastry called Gallete du Rois or King’s Cake is baked and decorated with a crown. 

But why do people hide a figurine?

Baby Jesus figurines were not traditionally made of plastic, of course, but of ceramic. The pagan tradition of choosing a festival king through a hidden broad bean was transformed into hiding a baby Jesus, representing how Mary and Joseph hid their son when King Herod wanted to find the baby that according to the prophecies would become king. This is an example of religious syncretism that resulted in a fun tradition enjoyed by millions every year. Are you interested in starting having a Dia de Reyes in case you don’t already?

Some people are really obsessed with having the biggest Rosca de Reyes ever and the world record is 2 kilometers of crusty and sweet heaven.

The world record for the longest Rosca de Reyes was achieved on January 6 2019, when the Vizcaya University was home to a two kilometer loaf. As Mexico Daily News reports, the ingredient list was something that needed to be seen to be believed: “More than two tonnes of flour, 10,000 eggs, 350 kilograms of margarine, 16 liters of vanilla, 18 liters of orange blossom water, 25 kilos of baker’s yeast, 150 kilos of lard and 700 kilos of sugar went into the very long loaf”. And it was so long that 7,000 baby figurines were hidden under layers of fluffy brioche. 

This Is What Mexico Looks Like As It Reopens During A Global Pandemic

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This Is What Mexico Looks Like As It Reopens During A Global Pandemic

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Step outside into Mexico’s capital (home to more than 20 million people) and you’d be forgiven for not realizing we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic that’s killed more than half a million people.

As of this week, several Mexican states have entered the initial phase of reopening and Mexicans are taking full advantage of the newly found sense of ‘freedom’ – visiting restaurants, cafés and shops in droves. However, experts warn that Mexico will likely follow the dangerous path of the United States – which opened prematurely and is now having to shut down businesses once again as cases reach record levels.

Here’s an inside look into the daily reality of Chilangos (as residents of Mexico City are called) and what the future holds for the country amid Coronavirus.

Mexico City – along with 17 other states – have entered the first phase of a gradual reopening.

Despite being home to the largest number of active cases across Mexico, the capital joined 17 other states in a phased reopening this week. Mexico City lowered its contagion risk from a level red (the most extreme) to level orange, which permits some businesses to reopen.

However, Mexico City – on the day of the reopening – saw a record 5,432 new cases and 638 confirmed deaths. Mayor Sheinbaum said that the switch to orange was possible because hospital occupancy levels are at 59% and trending downwards. But to many, the government is prioritizing the economy over public safety and health. Several government officials insisted that it was safe to proceed to the reduced warning level but health experts disagreed.

The mayor stressed that if hospital occupancy levels go above 65% again, red light restrictions will be reinstated. She urged residents to continue to take precautions to reduce the risk of infection. People should continue to stay at home as much as possible and the use of face masks in public places remains mandatory.

Along with Mexico City, 17 other states moved into the orange phase of reopening – including tourist hotspots of Jalisco, Veracruz, Quintana Roo, and Yucatan.

The federal government instituted a traffic light system to simplify the risk management of Covid-19

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Shortly after the Coronavirus outbreak began, the federal government instituted a color-coded risk management system to simplify its messaging. With red being the highest risk level and green being the lowest, every state until June 15th was still in the red level.

As of July 1, 18 states are now in the orange level. This means that restaurants, cafés, and shops can begin to reopen with reduced capacity. Hotels and markets will also be allowed to resume service, meaning that tourism will likely begin to pick up again very soon.

President AMLO has been eager to get the economy reopened after it was reported that at least one million formal jobs have been lost and the country’s economy is expected to shrink by 8.8% this year.

On the first day of reopening, shops in Mexico City’s historic center were jammed full of shoppers.

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The city’s historical center is a hub of economic activity. You can literally find pretty much anything you could ever want in these cobblestones streets. The district is home to more than 27,000 businesses and as of this week they’re now permitted to open once again. And resident wasted no time in hitting the shops.

Long lines formed outside shops with few people wearing masks and most stores not truly enforcing social distancing requirements. Some offered antibacterial gel and took people’s temperatures before allowing them to enter.

Officially, shops and businesses with an odd street number are permitted to open three days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, whereas even-numbered shops can open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

In order to prevent crowds from accumulating and promote social distancing, 31 streets were converted into pedestrian-only zones.

Restaurants, cafés, and shopping centers are all open for business – with some protective measurements in place.

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Even before the official change to semáforo naranja, several restaurants and cafés were already offering dine-in service. But now restaurants are officially allowed to operate at limited capacity, while staff are required to wear masks and shields, and restaurants are’s allowed to play music or issue reusable menus.

Street markets, known as tianguis, will also be allowed to restart which will help many of the city’s informal workers. And the following week, department stores and shopping malls will also be allowed to reopen at 30% capacity and with limited hours.

Mexico is hardly finished with the Coronavirus threat – in fact, cases have been reaching record levels.

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Although not yet at the levels seen in the U.S. or Brazil, Mexico has been struggling with its response to the Coronavirus pandemic. As of July 1, the country has had more than 225,000 confirmed cases and almost 28,000 deaths, with Mexico City being the epicenter of the nation’s outbreak.

And the worst doesn’t appear to be over. In a Covid-19 situation report published Monday, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security noted that Mexico had reported a decreasing daily incidence for three consecutive days.

“However, Mexico does not yet appear to have reached its peak,” the report said. “Based on recent trends, we expect Mexico to report increasing daily incidence over the coming days. Mexico is currently No. 6 globally in terms of daily incidence,” it added.

Mexico’s AMLO And Trump Plan To Meet In July And Everyone Wants To Know What They’ll Be Discussing

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Mexico’s AMLO And Trump Plan To Meet In July And Everyone Wants To Know What They’ll Be Discussing

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Trump has a long history of treating Mexico as a political punching bag. He literally launched his campaign for president by demonizing Mexicans. BUt despite this, Mexico’s Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) has said the U.S. president has always treated him with respect. After threatening Mexico with tariffs last year, AMLO deployed troops to deter migration by Central Americans across Mexico to the U.S. – in a move many saw as an act of obedience to Trump.

But Trump’s own rhetoric has also changed. During a visit to Arizona last week, he said that it was Mexico who has helped drive down border crossings.

“If you look at so many of the different crimes that come through the border, they’re stopped. We’ve implemented groundbreaking agreements with Mexico,” Trump said during a round table on border security. “I want to thank the President of Mexico. He’s really a great guy. I think he’ll be coming into Washington pretty soon.”

So the two leaders seem to be on good terms. But a meeting with Trump could backfire.

President Trump and Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador are planning their first personal meeting for July.

In what would be their first head-to-head meeting, Mexican President AMLO and Trump are likely to meet in the beginning half of July, according to officials. It’s a politically risky move for Mexico’s AMLO, who is already being attacked from across the political spectrum for appearing to appease Donald Trump.

AMLO said that in his meeting with Trump he intends to promote their new trade deal (the USMCA), as well as to thank him for sending medical ventilators to Mexico to help with the growing Coronavirus pandemic in the country. The date of the visit though is still not set in stone, since the pair would also want to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – since his country is also a signatory to the trade deal.

“It is very important for us participate in the beginning of this historical agreement, which is very timely because it will help us in the recovery of our economy and the creation of jobs,” Lopez Obrador said during his daily press conference.

Mexico’s economy has been battererd by the Coroanvirus and AMLO is betting its recovery is tied to the U.S., since both countries are facing their deepest recessions since the Great Depression.

Many are speculating about the what the meeting could focus on – with there being so many hard pressing issues between the two countries.

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AMLO has made it clear that his stated goal of the visit would be to promote the renegotiated trade deal known as the USMCA, formerly NAFTA. However, the Coronavirus pandemic is still raging across the two countries and it’s likely it will be play a major part in discussions as well.

Apart from these two timely topics, both countries are speculating as to what else the two leaders could discuss – especially since Trump has so often spoken poorly of Mexico and issued sweeping demands in the past.

Will the pair discuss immigration, asylum and the border wall?

For AMLO, this would be his first trip out of Mexico since assuming the presidency in 2018.

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AMLO assumed the presidency in December 2018, and since then he hasn’t left the country once. He has sent surrogates to attend globally important meetings, including to the U.N. Security Council election and several major economic forums. Instead, AMLO has preferred to stay in Mexico, traveling from state to state promoting his domestic agenda.

Even though AMLO’s critics have encouraged him to take international trips in the interest of Mexico, this is one that most experts agree is a mistake. They’re skeptical that the meeting will be beneficial at all to Mexico.

In a tweet, the former Mexican ambassador to the United States, Arturo Sarukhán, called the potential visit “a big blunder and a mistake,” saying that Trump would only use the Mexican president as an electoral prop. He also called such a visit “suicidal for Mexico’s long-term and strategic relationship with the United States.”

Former foreign minister Jorge Castañeda told Reuters he thought a visit was “a dumb idea” considering it is an election year in the United States.

Complicating matters, AMLO will fly to the U.S. on commercial flights amid a global pandemic.

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AMLO is well-known as being frugal. He turned the palatial Los Pinos (the formal home of the Mexican President) into a cultural center and instead lives in his own apartment. He drives his own Volkswagen Jetta. And he always flies commercial, wherever he goes. And, apparently, that’s still the plan for his trip to Washington despite a global health crisis.

“I am going to travel on a commercial aircraft,” López Obrador told reporters during his morning news conference. “There is no direct trip from Mexico City to Washington, but you can make a stop. I will arrive a day before the meeting that we will have.”

And for Trump, the meeting would be high stakes given the concessions his supporters will want from Mexico.

Trump literally launched his presidential campaign by demonizing Mexicans. Since then, he’s made several swipes at the country and its people and has pursued inhumane immigration policies that have broken families and likely resulted in the deaths of many. Yet to his supporters, he hasn’t done nearly enough on immigration.

Therefore, it’s widely accepted that Trump will use the meeting as a way to advance his political standing with his core supporters and talk up his ‘achievements’ on border security.