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.

Credit: Pinterest

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!

Rosca de reyes tradition 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.

Credit: The Spruce Eats

The Rosca de Reyes tradition 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… 

Credit: Tierra Fertil

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. 

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This Indigenous Village In Mexico Trains Their Children As Soldiers To Combat Gang Violence

Things That Matter

This Indigenous Village In Mexico Trains Their Children As Soldiers To Combat Gang Violence

via Getty Images

In the town of Ayahualtempa, Mexico, in the state of Guerrero, reporters see a shocking image whenever they visit. Children armed with guns, trained to defend themselves. The disturbing scene is meant to be shocking. The village of Ayahualtempa is under constant attack. A prominent heroin “corridor”, they are the victims of violence and carnage at the hands of gangsters and the cartel.

In order to gain the Mexican government’s attention, the Ayahualtempa villagers dress their children up as soldiers. Then, they invite the media in.

Ayahualtempa
via Getty Images

When reporters arrive, the children of Ayahualtempa dutifully line up and put on a performance. They march, they show how they would shoot a gun from one knee, or from flat on their bellies. They tell reporters that their mock-violent performance is “so the president sees us and helps us,” as a 12-year-old child named Valentín told the Associated Press.

Because the Mexican government doesn’t protect Ayahualtempa, the display of child soldiers is a form of protest for the small indigenous village. The people of this remote region of Guerrero want protection from the National Guard, and financial help for widows and orphans who have been made so from organized crime.

The villagers don’t trust local authorities, and for good reason. Guerrera is the Mexican state in which 43 teaching students were abducted and killed in an event that is known as the “Iguala mass kidnapping”. Authorities arrested 80 suspects in connection to the event. 44 of them were police officers, working in conjunction with a network of cartels.

Although the demonstrations function largely as a publicity stunt, violence is very much a part of these children’s lives.

via Getty Images

Parents train their children to walk to school with loaded guns, ready to defend themselves against violent gangsters.

The attention-grabbing antics have, to some extent, worked. On one occasion, the government donated some housing material. On another, benefactors gave the community’s orphans and widows scholarships and houses. But as soon as the periodic media storms die down, the federal government continues pretending Ayahualtempa doesn’t exist.

The hypocrisy of the government’s response is frustrating to many. “We’ve normalized that these children don’t eat, are illiterate, are farm workers. We’re used to the Indians dying young, but, ‘How dare they arm them!’” said local human rights activist Abel Barrera to the AP, with a heavy dose of sarcasm.

As for now, until the government moves to protect the community, they say they will continue their demonstrations. “They see that the issue of the children is effective for making people take notice and they think: If that’s what works, we’ll have to keep doing it,” said Barrera.

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Spanish Voiceover Actress For Jessie From Pokémon Dies And Fans Mourn

Entertainment

Spanish Voiceover Actress For Jessie From Pokémon Dies And Fans Mourn

Pokémon fans in Latin America are mourning the death of Diana Pérez, the Spanish-language voice of Jessie of Pokémon’s Team Rocket. The voice actress has been voicing the character since 1997.

Diana Pérez, the voice actress of Team Rocket’s Jessie, died at 51.

Lalo Garza, a famed voice actor in Mexico, confirmed the death of the Pokémon voice actress.

“Rest in peace Diana Pérez, a strong, cultured, intelligent, and very talented woman. You are good now, friend. Nothing hurts anymore. Have a good trip,” reads the tweet.

Pérez has been a staple in the Spanish-language Pokémon fandom for decades.

Pérez was more than just he voice of Jessie. The voice actress was the voice of multiple anime characters including Luffy in One Piece and Kagura in Inuyasha. In recent years, Pérez had started branching out to directing, producing, and other branches in the entertainment industry.

Pérez’s death is being mourned by Pokémon fans outside of the Spanish-language fandom.

Sarah Natochenny is the English voice of Ash Ketchum in the Pokémon series, Jessie’s mortal enemy. The death of Pérez has impacted the larger Pokémon community. Pérez was a pivotal part of the Latin American Pokémon community for decades and her loss has devastated fans.

Descansa en paz, Diana.

There have been no plans announced for a replacement to voice Team Rocket’s Jessie. No official cause of death has been released either. Our hearts and thoughts go out to Pérez’s family and the greater Pokémon community mourning her passing.

READ: I Was Today Years Old When I Found Out This Mexican Pokémon

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