by Spanish AP Class, Roberto Clemente Community Academy
Often we stop to celebrate or participate in traditions and holidays, but… sometimes without knowing exactly why. “What is El Día de los Reyes?” “Why is it celebrated?” “And … how?” These are all questions asked by Clemente´s AP Spanish Language and Culture students.
Exploring the history and culture of “Three Kings’ Day,” students learned that, in addition to the many people who celebrate Christmas, there are also people who celebrate the day when three kings (or wise men) named Balthasar of Arabia, Melchior of Persia, and Gaspar of India – after learning of the birth of a new King – arrived to his manger where he was born, to bring him gifts.
In recognition of this special day and as in the case with many holidays, there is often more than one way to celebrate. It was learned that children leave a treat for the 3 Wise Men and hay for their camels (kind of like leaving cookies for Santa) for their long journey. In return, small gifts may be left for the children. Adults spend time with friends and family and share a Rosca de Reyes, similar to a large fruitcake but in the shape of a crown. Baked inside this Rosca are anywhere from one to four baby dolls, symbolic of the baby Jesus. Tradition says that whoever gets the piece with the baby inside has to host a party on February 2nd. Both quite confused and fascinated by this tradition, Clemente students wanted to experience this custom first hand…and that’s exactly what they did.
Students were provided the opportunity to partake in a Rosca de Reyes, gathering around it first to simply get a good look at what it looks like…and it looked just as described … a crown fit for a king! Anxious to cut the slices, afterward each student received a piece of bread…one by one…with anticipation and excitement for seeing if the baby was baked into their piece! “I ate rosca when I was younger, traditionally. It’s been years and so it reminded me of my childhood,” shared senior Armanni Varela.
Students enjoyed having this opportunity to learn about this special day, taste a new pastry in class, and most importantly to learn that two of their classmates now have to – instead of hosting a party – bring a treat for the class on February 2! Senior Jocelyn Ramirez-Arreola expressed, “I had tried rosca before, but I didn’t know what it was for until now. My piece had the baby in it and so now I have to think about what treat I want to bring!”
“We used to eat rosca in elementary school and they’d also give us some candy in a shoe. So it brought back memories. Even though we celebrated, I wasn’t really sure what the baby meant, especially since I never got it in my piece of bread.” Kyle Rodriguez. Sorry you never got the baby, Kyle! Better luck, next year!