FULLERTON, Calif. — Christmas festivities are not quite over yet. For many people around the world, especially those within the local Latino community, Three Kings Day is celebrated with a special cake called rosca de reyes.
“The Three Kings cake reminds us of the birth of Jesus, and when the three wise men went to visit him,” said Belinda Zuniga, manager of El Trigal Dorado bakery in Fullerton.
The traditional cake is packed with flavor and symbols, including faith, love and happiness. Zuniga says she loves this time of year, because it’s another opportunity for the family to get together.
Inside the cakes being prepared, you’ll find a tiny plastic baby Jesus hidden within the dough, which once symbolized Mary and Joseph hiding Jesus from King Herod. Now, it also comes with its own set of traditions.
“You’re supposed to have a gathering, and whoever finds baby Jesus, is supposed to buy tamales for everybody,” Zuniga explained.
And if you’re lucky enough to get baby Jesus, you’ll be preparing the tamales party for February 2, which is another holiday known as Candlemas.
Zuniga has her extended family come in and help during this time of year as it gets extra busy. Adriana Guardado, her niece, says she doesn’t mind.
“It’s a cultural thing. Family is everything to us, so is unity,” she said.
United in faith, love and sweet bread. The rosca cakes are only prepared once a year so the bakery is focused on meeting the consistently high demands.
While Zuniga appreciates the flow of business, she wants the next generation of younger Latinos, who are a part of a rising 34% of Orange County’s Hispanic population, to remember the true meaning of the holiday.
“They don’t know what it means,” Zuniga said. “They just know that the family gets together and they have cake, but I wish that everybody would explain to their kids exactly what it means, and it’s pretty much love, you know?”