Every Jan. 6 in the Latin American tradition, not only is the liturgical feast of the Epiphany celebrated, but so is the coming of the Magi. In Mexico, it is said that on Dec. 12, a festival that lasts almost a month called Guadalupe-Reyes begins. It begins on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Dec. 12) and ends on the day of the Three Kings (Jan. 6).
If you grew up in a Mexican home, Santa Claus might not be as popular as the three wise men (Los Reyes Magos). It is the wise men who bring gifts to the child Jesus. Those gifts are now shared with all the children of the world. People dressed as the three kings can be seen on all the streets of the cities. And, jubilant children come to them to remind them of the gifts they hope to receive. They will have to put shoes next to the Christmas tree or at the entrance of the house so that the kings put their gifts on them.
On Jan. 6, the traditional “Rosca de Reyes” also is shared. The tradition is very similar to the king cake from New Orleans. An oval cake with colored dried fruit that is eaten in commemoration of the coming of the Magi: Melchior, Gaspar, and Baltazar. The shape of the cake is symbolic of a crown, specifically the crown of King Herod who wants to kill the newborn Jesus. Its colored dried fruit represents the jewels of a crown. Others claim that its oval shape reminds us of the eternal nature of God without beginning or end.
Inside the cake is the greatest treasure of all – a figure of a child, representing the child Jesus. This symbolizes Joseph and Mary fleeing to Egypt “hiding” the baby Jesus from the evils of King Herod. Inevitably, when you cut the cake, someone will be the lucky one to find it. Whoever does find it will have a special assignment. The person who cuts the cake, precisely in the place where the figure is hidden, will have to organize a meal with tamales on Feb. 2, the day of the Presentation of the Lord.
St. Thomas More Catholic School is part of the Green Bay Area Catholic Education (GRACE) School System. It is a private Catholic school serving Preschool and Elementary through 8th grade (PK3-8). The school has open enrollment and provides an individualized education in a faith-based environment. Each child is supported not only academically, but spiritually. To learn more about St. Thomas More, browse their website, stmoregb.com, or call the office at (920) 432-8242.