Tag Archives: Candlemas

Rosca de Reyes

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/   

French Candlemas

Note: The form of this submission includes the dialogue between the informant and I before the cutoff (as you’ll see if you scroll down), as well as my own thoughts and other notes on the piece after the cutoff. The italics within the dialogue between the informant and I (before the cutoff) is where and what kind of direction I offered the informant whilst collecting. 

Informant’s Background: 

My name is Keveen. I grew in the South Western part of France, a little town called Brive located between Toulouse and the coastal city of Bordeaux.


Another tradition that I remember celebrating every year is “La Chandeleur”, French Candlemas. An early February commemoration of the presentation of Jesus at the Temple that French culture embrace by making Crepes and lighting the house only with Candles, that day being called as well the day of the light marking the end of the Christmas period. I remember making crepes with the family during that time, until I moved out of the house after High School. The tradition of crepes comes from the fact that being round they represent the sun (day of the light), easy to make and cheap, required a bit of agility (flipping them and succeeding at it means the household will be prosperous for the rest of the year. My Grandma never did that but a lot of families keep one crepe, place a coin in it and leave it in the closet for the rest of the year to bring money to the household. Also if you’re able to flip the crepe 6 times in a row you will get married that year.

Piece Background Information: 

Growing up atheist but with a catholic Grand mother from Paris who ended up raising me while my parents were working, I took part of a few religious traditions specific to the French culture, each region having their own interpretation of them.


Context of Piece Performance: 

In person, during the day at informant’s house in Highland Park, Los Angeles.

Thoughts on Piece: 

Upon further research, I found that French Candlemas, which takes place in December, is generally supposed to utilize the remainder of the harvest from the year on the crepes to symbolize completion of the cycle of the sun (as noted by the informant himself- the roundness of the crepe is similar to the roundness of the sun). I consider this folk belief to fall under homeopathic magic as there are thought to be real world effects (a great harvest in the year to come) due to the similarities between the crepes and the sun. Additionally, this ritual falls within/ is coordinated with the Earth cycle too.