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Who hasn’t heard of Melchoir, Gaspar, and Balthazar? The Three Wise Men who were guided by the brightness of the star of the East to find the place where the son of God was born. And when they arrived they offered their respective gifts: myrrh, gold and incense.
In Mexico, it is customary for young children to write a wish list and send it to the Three Wise Men by tying it to a balloon and then let it fly up to the heavens, trusting that it will reach sweet recipients. Some children will send their letters with some apprehension because only the children who behaved well for their parents, and did their homework will receive gifts from the Magi on the morning of January 6. As a general rule, children are allowed to bring their toys to class on this day.
The Rosca de Reyes is rich in history and meaning. To begin with, its circular form represents the infinite love of God according to the Christian teaching; The colored figures resemble the crowns of the kings and the doll that hides in the bread symbolizes how the Holy Family fled from Egypt when Herod had ordered the assassination of all of the children under 2 years of age. To eat the bread is to receive God into our bodies. It’s interesting to note that France was the first country where the Gallete des Rois was prepared, which is called the Rosca de Reyes in Mexico.
In Mexico, January 6 is equivalent to eating Rosca de Reyes several times a day, usually at work and then again at home with family and friends. In many offices it is greatly anticipated, not only because it’s so rich and makes the best breakfast in the world when accompanied by hot chocolate, but because hidden inside the bread are several plastic dolls that symbolize the Child of God. Those who cut a piece of the bread containing the doll will have to prepare tamales for everyone present on February 2, also recognized as the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple or the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin or the Meeting of the Lord. This is a popular holiday celebrated in honor of the Virgin of Candelaria who came to light up the world. During the celebration candles are lit in her honor.
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