M is 44. She was born in Los Angeles, her parents are from Guadalajara, Mexico. She told me about how her family practices the tradition of Rosca de Reyes in person.
“So, um… on January 6th, it’s the tres reyes magos they came to Jesus to bring him gifts and um… in order to celebrate that, someone bakes a cake and everyone takes a slice of it, and inside the cake there’s a baby Jesus, like a toy of the baby Jesus and whoever gets the slice with baby Jesus has to throw a party. The cake is called rosca de reyes… it looks like a round pretzel and on top it has like nasty pieces of jelly. In my family we always buy it, we don’t bake it ourselves…but so, the party is I think… in April. You throw a party in celebration of the coming of Jesus.”
The Rosca de Reyes is a variation on King Cake which dates to medieval times. The tradition is linked to Western Christianity and many countries have versions of it. In the United States, it is particularly popular as part of Louisiana’s Mardi Gras. The version M told me about is typical of Spanish speaking countries, especially Mexico. The hiding of the baby in the cake is said to represent the biblical story of Herod’s massacre of the innocents and the party thrown afterwards is supposed to be on Candlemas which is in February. For more information about the King Cake in Louisiana see,https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2012/02/17/147039138/is-that-a-plastic-baby-jesus-in-my-cake. For more about Rosca de Reyes see https://entrenosotros.consum.es/en/history-roscon-de-reyes. For more about the Candlemas party see https://wearemitu.com/wearemitu/culture/ok-so-you-got-the-baby-jesus-figurine-in-the-rosca-de-reyes-now-what-heres-what-dia-de-la-candelaria-is-all-about/