Here come the tamales!

It does seem like the Christmas season should be over, but events keep popping up. Yesterday we attended a post-holiday gathering of about a doze university students and their sponsors, part of a program called Caminantes Brillantes to provide financial assistance to promising young people who would not otherwise be able to attend university. There were plates of nibbles, gifts for the students, and a rosca.

Roscas are traditionally served as a part of the celebration of Three Kings Day, January 6, the day the Magi arrived in Bethlehem to present their gifts to the Christ Child. That’s the day children here in Mexico receive their gifts. Yesterday was a few days late for Three Kings, but who’s counting?

Rosca_de_reyesI’ve seen roscas many times, since we’ve often been here in early January. Bake shop and supermarkets overflow with them for a few days (always packaged in excessively big boxes, but that’s another story). This was my first opportunity to try one. It’s a rather dry, slightly sweet yeast bread decorated with dried fruit. And hidden inside are several little figures of the baby Jesus. If you get one in your slice, you’re obliged to provide the tamales for the next event on the calendar of Catholic celebrations—Candlemass on February 2, celebrating the presentation of the baby Jesus at the temple.

Here’s the little image I bit into. bbabyJSo, when the group gathers next—probably not precisely on February 2, but thereabouts—I will be one of several people showing up with tamales. Apparently last year one of the recipients of the image brought delicious home-made tamales. I’m afraid I’ll be looking for a tamale shop.

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