After all the fiestas decembrinas or parties in December: the posadas of every group and neighborhood to which you belong, as well as the Christmas and New Year’s festivities themselves, it might be logical to think that most Mazatlecos would be anxious to take a rest from partying. After all, Carnavál/Mardi Gras is not far off, and we all need to be in party shape!
Well, not so quickly! Before you take down the pinito or put away the crêche, we need to be sure to celebrate Epiphany or 12th Night, which in Latin America is of course called Día de los Reyes. This holiday commemorates the visit of the three magi, Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar, to the infant Jesus in Bethlehem. It falls on January 6.
The night before, January 5, is when most Mexican kids hope for a gift. Gifts from Santa are not a traditional custom here, though they are growing in popularity. But gifts from the 3 Kings are enormously popular. Most children will put out their shoes to be filled with candies and gifts, as well as a dish with food for the kings’ camels. Many families buy gifts to donate to needy children this time of year, and many public parties or community events such as Juguetón are held, with entertainment and drawings for gifts and prizes.
The evening of January 6 then becomes an excuse to brew some hot chocolate, eat rosca de reyes (a ring of bread-like cake with one or more miniature dolls baked into the batter), and get together with family and friends to maybe play a few games of lotería or dominoes.
Careful, though! The people who get the monito, the small doll, in their piece of the rosca “get” to host the party and bring the tamales on February 2, Día de la Candelaria or Candlemass, 40 days after Christmas, the day when Jesus would have been taken to the temple.
Thus, we have at least one more Candelaría party to look forward to before Carnavál begins on February 16!