While it doesn’t get the same fanfare as Christmas for many, “Dia de Reyes,” or Three Kings Day, is every bit as special for many who celebrate the Jan. 6 holiday.
“Since we were little we remember my mom used to bring the Rosca to the house,” said Susana Gallego, owner of Aurora’s Bakery in Escondido. “We would wait for it, when you’re little you wait for it."
Dia de Reyes is celebrated on January 6. On this day, those who believe, pay homage to the Three Wise Men who traveled for 12 days to give gifts to Jesus Christ in Bethlehem.
It is a tradition in Spain, Latin America and the Caribbean as well as among Latinos in the United States, like Gallego.
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Popular traditions during the holiday include gift-giving, large feasts, and indulging in Rosca de Reyes.
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Rosca de Reyes is a special bread with fruit and sugar that comes in the shape of a crown. Inside the cake, a baby Jesus doll is hidden, whoever finds it is believed to receive good luck -- but it also signs you up to throw a party.
“You do tamales, the second of February,” said Gallegos.
Similar to stockings at Christmas, many children leave out their shoes the night before for the wise men to leave candies and toys in.
“You wake up and you go and check your shoes to see if there's something there,” said Gallegos.
“In the evening, the family gets together and then you have the Rosca,” said Gallegos.
Gallegos who continues to celebrate the holiday with her family is now also a big part of celebrations across the county. Her bakery specializes in baking Rosca de Reyes.
“We’ve been getting a lot of calls from customers,” said Gallegos. “They’ve been asking, are you guys making Roscas this year?”
Up until last year, the bakery had become a staple of many Escondido family celebrations.
“Last year, two weeks before the Rosca COVID hit us and we had to close the bakery,” said Gallegos. “We were closed for about two weeks and a half so we weren’t able to make Roscas.”
This year they are open and ready to serve their community, but not without limitations.
“We are short on staff as a lot of businesses,” said Gallegos. “[And] It's been hard, very hard, to find the supplies [we need for the bakery]."
Still, the shop and its bakers remain positive.
“We’re excited, we’re happy that we’re making Roscas again,” said Gallegos.
Happy that after nearly two years of difficulties brought on by the pandemic they continue to be a part of their customer's celebrations.