Last night, after supper under the stars at Samburguesas munching on chile relleno torta and sipping Corona, we piled into the van to visit the godchildren of Dolores and Federico and bring them a rosca. This is a large egg bread ring topped with candied fruits, sugar, and hidden little plastic babies baked inside. Whomever gets the slice with the baby is obliged to offer a fiesta on February 6. This morning I was awakened by a knock on my door at 8:30 a.m. Norma, time for rosca and hot chocolate. I scrambled to get dressed and join the family around the kitchen table for another Zapotec tradition. Dolores had cut the bread in slices for each of us to take a piece. There was a very delicious cup of hot chocolate at my place. I eyed the ring and chose my slice, dipping it into the chocolate and taking a bite, repeating the ritual, as is the custom for eating pan dulce at breakfast. I breathed a quiet sigh of relief. No baby for me. This is a very ancient tradition, Eric says to me earlier in the week as we snacked on rosca at Elsa’s house. I wonder where it originates from.
Postscript: Another supper at Samburguesas. Federico explains the origins of Rosca de Reyes in Spanish and Janet and Omar, his children, translate and add some details they learned in school. This was originally a European custom, they say, and explain that when the baby Jesus was born the three wise men (Kings) assembled from all over the world and walked to the manger. One of the Kings rode a horse, another a camel, another an elephant. One carried gold, another incense and another myrrh to present as gifts to the virgin. The Virgin Mary was afraid and she hid. This is why the little plastic babies are hidden in the bread. In Europe, the bread contained a baby and a wedding ring. The lore recounts that the person who gets the baby will be single all their life and the person who gets the ring will be happily married. When the tradition came to Mexico, only the plastic baby was baked into the bread. The person who gets the baby will get married and give a fiesta on February 2.
The bread is decorated with with red and green candied fruits — the colors of Mexico. Janet and Omar say that they learned this explanation through their study at the village church.
This morning, as I sip choco-cafe in the kitchen before the taxi comes to take me to the airport, Federico cuts me a slice of the delicious rosca, then packages up about half the bread for me to take home to Stephen for new year’s wishes. Buen provecho!