Wave in Motion: Celebrating the Epiphany with Roscon de Reyes

Wave in Motion: Celebrating the Epiphany with Roscon de Reyes
Wave in Motion: Celebrating the Epiphany with Roscon de Reyes
Jessica Fiddes

On January 3, Language Department Chair Inma Serrano introduced her Spanish III students to the traditions surrounding the Feast of the Epiphany which is typically celebrated on January 6.

Popular Epiphany customs include church services, Epiphany singing and, happily, consuming a special cake called Roscon de Reyes (Ring of the Kings). Recipes vary from country to country. For decoration, figs, quinces, cherries or dried and candied fruits are used and the cake is enjoyed during the celebration of the Día de Reyes ("Kings' Day"), which commemorates the arrival of the three Magi or Wise Men. In most of Spain, Spanish America, and Hispanic communities in the United States, this is the day when children traditionally get presents, which are attributed to the Three Wise Men, not the jolly bearded man in the fur-trimmed red suit.

To demonstrate these cultural traditions, Serrano invited two Delbarton parents, both expert bakers, into her classroom for a cultural taste-off.

Representing Spain was María De la Vega P'20, mother of Carlos Sanzo '20, on right, and on left, representing Mexico, was Martha Trevino P'20,'22, mother of Andrés Lopez '20 and Eugenio López '22. Dueling Roscons de Reyes at Delbarton!

After explaining to students how this Epiphany cake originated in Palestine, then migrated to Greece, Roman Empire, Spain and on to the Spanish colonies in the Americas...the boys then had an opportunity for a taste test. They compared the differences between the Spanish Roscon de Reyes vs. the Mexican version, then sampled the flavor profiles of hot chocolate which often accompanies the torte. Sweet!

More cultural trivia: In Spain before children go to bed on Epiphany eve, they leave a dish filled with biscuits and glasses of water for the three wise men and the camels they ride on. Roscones have a small figure baked inside, either of a baby Jesus or little toys for children, as well as the more traditional dried fava bean. The baby Jesus figure represents the flight of the Holy Family, fleeing from King Herod's Massacre of the Innocents. Whoever finds the figure is crowned "king" or "queen" of the celebration, whereas whoever finds the bean has a job to do: he/she pays for the next year's roscón or Epiphany party. In the Mexican culture, this person has the responsibility of hosting a dinner and providing tamales and atole to the guests. In U.S. communities with large Mexican and Mexican-American populations, the celebration often includes the Mexican hominy stew pozole, which often is shared with neighbors.

Serrano confirms that her students appreciated the very delicious cultural and seasonal Epiphany lesson!