Wednesday, January 8, 2014/lk
Hundreds of families took part Monday in Three Kings Day with a sweet tradition derived from the Bible, and two local bakeries provided the goods.
Also known as “Epiphany,” Three Kings Day is primarily celebrated by Hispanic cultures. The day represents when the three wise men presented their gifts to baby Jesus.
The tradition involves eating a wide, flattened sweet bread in the shape of an oval with a hole in the center. It’s called Rosca de Reyes, or “wreath of kings.”
Hidden inside the bread are miniature baby dolls.
“Traditionally, they cut up the bread by pieces and the person that gets the baby inside has to throw some kind of a party or cook a dinner for the rest of the people that were there at the event,” La Milpa manager Ernie Santos Jr. said.
“It kind of brings people closer together. The value is just making everybody feel like family,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of people ask us if we’re going to do them… because they want to get that tradition back into the area.”
The La Milpa workers planned to celebrate Three Kings Day at the bakery that afternoon.
Co-workers Michael Santos, 27, and Oscar Gonzalez, 21, said they enjoy participating in the tradition.
“I like that you’re being with your family and having fun,” Michael Santos said. “It’s basically like another Christmas, because kids get presents on that day.”
La Milpa, 324 E. Main Ave., has baked up to 250 rosca for one Three Kings Day, Santos said. The shop has been participating in the tradition for about five years.
On Monday, the employees had baked around 120 by mid-morning and planned to make at least 100 more that day.
“You’ve got to kind of learn to be efficient,” Santos said.
Customers come from not only Brewster, but Pateros, Bridgeport, Okanogan, Omak, Chelan and Manson to buy the bread, he said. Some arrived over the weekend to claim their rosca, but Monday was by far the busiest day.
“We started at four in the morning,” Michael Santos said as he spread colorful sugar paste onto an unbaked rosca. He has helped make rosca at La Milpa for two years.
The bigger rosca come with four dolls and the smaller ones contain two. They’re made with peaches, mandarin, guava, cherries and the sugar paste, and each rosca is decorated differently, Ernie Santos said. Some rosca are round, but the oval shape allows it to be shared among more people.
Brewster Marketplace had a display of its own freshly baked rosca Monday at the store, 907 U.S. Highway 97.
La Milpa also throws a community party for Cinco de Mayo and hopes to have another celebration for Mexico’s independence day in September.