BY FRED RAMOS
SPECIAL TO THE MONITOR
One of the most sacred holidays on the Catholic calendar takes place today, and bakeries across the Rio Grande Valley are ready for the business it brings.
Shops have been busy for days baking Rosca de Reyes, a pastry translated as “ring of the Kings,” which is traditionally eaten on Jan. 6 as part of Dia de los Reyes, or Kings’ Day.
The celebration surrounds the arrival of the three wise men at the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.
A miniature baby Jesus is placed inside each rosca and signifies the flight of the Holy Family from the massacre at the hands of King Herod.
Once the baby Jesus is discovered, the finder must bring the ornamental figure to the nearest church on Feb. 2, as part of Dia de la Candelaria, or Candlemas Day.
Hector Davila has plenty of experience baking the religious culinary treat. He’s been offering Rosca de Reyes for more than 25 years at his Edinburg business, La Mexicana Bakery. The recipe has been handed down his family for generations. He says he’s filled with joy each year, serving the holiday treat for anxious customers.
“Year by year, it’s been getting more popular. Everyone knows about the Rosca de Reyes and the significance of the holiday,” Davila said.
However, over the last few years, Davila says he’s experienced growing competition from large grocery chains and box stores. Regardless, customers still line up at his bakery for his tasty Rosca de Reyes.
“People order in advance because they want to make sure they get their roscas,” Davila said. “We have a lot of special orders.”
Davila said his greatest pleasure is bringing joy to Valley families during the holidays. Whoever finds the baby Jesus is considered blessed.
“It makes me feel good to make families feel good,” Davila added. “Who doesn’t want to be with family and share their time?”
Hector’s sister Marisol Davila has spent decades baking the rosca, along side her brother. She said making roscas for other families helps make her family strong.
“It’s a tradition among our family that has gone back many years,” said Marisol. “It keeps our family together and united.”
But like her brother Hector, their goal is to bring joy to families.
“It makes them feel very happy because they are going to have family over, and they are going to enjoy their family,” said Marisol. “It’s all about family.”
She says the bakery has a lot of repeat customers because of the special ingredients the family adds to their rosca.
“Here at the Mexicana bakery, we add special ingredients to our roscas. You can taste a bit of orange. We add ingredients that represent happiness and the Christmas spirit,” Marisol said. “Even the color of the roscas is important.”
But the religious significance of Rosca de Reyes plays this time of year is also important to Marisol. She says she is thankful she’s able to help Valley families celebrate the holidays.
“This is a special time because this is when the three wise men brought gifts to the baby Jesus,” Marisol said. “Family is the main thing.”
If La Mexicana Bakery’s clientele is any indication, it doesn’t appear as though the custom is going anywhere in the future.
“We not only have our old customers, but we have our new customers — the new generation,” Marisol said. “Together we’re keeping the tradition alive.”