By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
This sweet treat sits at the center of Dia de los Reyes Magos
01052022 ROSCA 01.jpg
An edible symbol of Día de los Reyes Magos (commonly known as Epiphany or Three Kings Day), the rosca de reyes is a sweet, ring-shaped bread adorned with colorful candied cherries, red and green dried fruit and a sugary topping and typically contains a small plastic doll symbolizing baby Jesus. - photo by Daniela Carrasco

As the holiday season winds down, some families and religious groups in Hall County are keeping the celebrations going with feasts fit for kings.

Día de los Reyes Magos, also known as Epiphany or Three Kings Day, is celebrated on Jan. 6 to honor the three wise men that brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to Jesus Christ after his birth.

According to Father Jorge Carranza, parochial vicar at St. Michael Catholic Church in Gainesville, the holiday symbolizes each person’s journey to Christ, just like the Magi’s own journey all those years ago.

“They are important because we’re also on a journey searching for the newborn king in our lives, and we’re always searching trying to see where we can find him,” he said. “Most of the time, these three individuals remind us that there are signs that speak to us so that we can be on the journey that leads us to Jesus.”

Carranza explained that in the Bible, the Magi were astronomers following the star of Bethlehem to visit the newborn Jesus and fulfill the prophecy in the Old Testament. As the men traveled, they were guided by their own reasoning and faith in God.

Today, the holiday is celebrated by Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, and Christians in many Latin American and European countries including Mexico, Puerto Rico, Spain, France and Italy according to Carranza. 

Typical Día de los Reyes Magos celebrations resemble some Christmas traditions as children leave snacks for the three wise men and hay for their camels, setting out their shoes to be filled with gifts to discover the next morning. Other traditions include a gift exchange between family and friends.

Loved ones often gather to celebrate the holiday with a dinner feast, breaking bread together with the rosca de reyes, or “bread of kings.”

The rosca is a sweet, ring-shaped bread adorned with colorful candied cherries, red and green dried fruit and a sugary topping usually found atop conchas, a Mexican sweet bread. Inside the bread, a small plastic doll symbolizes baby Jesus. As the bread is sliced and passed around, the person who receives the piece containing the figurine must prepare a dinner or host for the next celebration.

“It reminds us of the greatest gift we receive in life and when we have that gift, we can share it,” Carranza said.

The bread itself is a mixture of flour, sugar, eggs, milk, yeast and vanilla extract that, when combined, form a sticky dough. After resting for about an hour, the dough is formed into its classic ring shape and brushed with an egg wash. The sugary paste, made from powdered and granulated sugars, eggs and flour, is then added along with the dried fruits and candied cherries. 

With decorating complete, the rosca is baked at 375 degrees for 35 minutes, resulting in a soft and spongy bread ready to enjoy.

For many families, the rosca has become the main symbol of Día de los Reyes Magos, and can be found in many Latino-owned businesses around Hall County. 

In his own home, Carranza said his family’s Día de los Reyes Magos traditions include placing statues of the Magi around their living room; guided by the star on top of the Christmas tree, the wise men slowly make their way toward the Carranzas’ Nativity scene.

“It kind of reminds my whole entire family, as well as the community, that we’re getting closer to the event that’s going to change our lives,” Carranza said.