Epiphany

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This bready, donut-shaped cake is decorated with dried fruits and spiked with a non-edible representation of the baby Jesus. Rosca de reyes is traditionally eaten on January 6 to commemorate the biblical story of the arrival of the Three Kings, (Three Kings Day). Finding the baby Jesus in your slice of cake is an honor –  one the recipient celebrates by throwing a party on February 2 with tamales and atole for all guests.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup dried figs, cut into strips, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup candied orange peel, cut into strips, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup candied lemon peel, cut into strips, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup chopped candied cherries, plus more whole for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons light rum
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs, divided
  • Water
  • Small ceramic Jesus figurine or coin to represent Jesus

Instructions:

In a small bowl, combine the yeast and warm water; stir to blend. Let stand until the yeast comes alive and starts to foam, about 5 to 10 minutes. Put all of the candied fruit in small bowl and drizzle the rum on top. Let stand for 15 minutes to 1 hour to infuse the flavor.

In a small pot, warm the milk over medium heat. Add the sugar, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt.

In a large bowl, mix 3 1/2 cups flour, 2 eggs, yeast mixture, milk mixture, and the rum soaked candied fruits, mixing very well until the dough gathers into a ball. If the dough is too wet, Add additional flour, a little at a time, if needed to form a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it’s smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Put the ball of dough back into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and set aside in a warm spot to rise for 1 hour.

Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a lightly floured surface. Using your palms, roll the dough into a long rope. Shape the coil into a ring, sealing the ends together. Insert a little doll or coin into the bread from the bottom. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil and coat with nonstick cooking spray. Carefully transfer the dough ring to the prepared baking pan.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon of water to make an egg wash, and brush the top of the bread. Decoratively garnish the top of the bread with more candied fruit and bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the cake is golden. Cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Cook’s Note: Let your guests know there is a little doll or coin inserted inside.

Recipe courtesy of Ingrid Hoffmann

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Santa Claus may have gone back to the North Pole to rest, but it doesn’t mean the gift-giving (and receiving) is over — at least not for the thousands of children in Latin America and Spain anxiously awaiting“El Día de los Reyes” Celebration on Jan. 6th.

  • Children leave their shoes right outside their doors so the Three Kings will leave their gifts inside, the bigger presents are placed around them.
  • Many families leave a box of grass (or hay) and water for The Three King’s camels to eat. Similar to the tradition of leaving out cookies and milk for Santa Claus. Camels are known for being a bit sloppy and leaving a trail of hay behind that children can often follow to their gifts!
  • Hispanic families will usually celebrate Three Kings Day with a scrumptious dinner that is topped off with the King’s Bread (Rosca de Reyes) for dessert. Children also sometimes make crowns to wear at the table in honor of the kings.

For many Christians, the holiday season doesn’t officially end until the 12th day of Christmas known as the “Feast of the Epiphany” or “Three Kings’ Day”.

The holiday marks the biblical adoration of baby Jesus by the three Kings, also referred to as three Wise Men or Magi. According to the Gospel of Matthew, the men found the divine child by following a star across the desert for twelve days to Bethlehem. Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar — representing Europe, Arabia, and Africa respectively — traveled by horse, camel, and elephant in order to present baby Jesus with three symbolic gifts.

  1. Gold
  2. Frankincense
  3. Myrrh

The gold offered by one of the wise men is a symbolic acknowledgment of Jesus’ royal standing as “King of the Jews,” while the frankincense manifests the divine nature of the baby’s existence, since he is not an earthly king but the Son of God. And finally the myrrh, often used to embalm corpses, was gifted to the newborn as a symbol of Jesus’ mortality — foreshadowing his death as a means to cleanse humanity of its sins.

Reyes festivities come in different shapes and sizes across the globe from community parades to three-day celebrations at Disneyland. In Mexico, thousands gather every year to taste a mile-long “Rosca de Reyes” (Kings’ Bread) while others simply make the holiday staple at home honoring the tradition to hide a baby Jesus figurine within the bread — the person whose slice has the figurine must prepare tamales for everyone on the Day of the Candles on Feb. 2!

Source: Huffington Post

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In Italian folklore, Befana is an old woman who delivers gifts to children throughout Italy on Epiphany Eve (the night of January 5) in a similar way to St Nicholas or Santa Claus.

In popular folklore Befana visits all the children of Italy on the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany to fill their socks with candy and presents if they are good, or a lump of coal or dark candy if they are bad. In many poorer parts of Italy and in particular rural Sicily, a stick in a stocking was placed instead of coal. Being a good housekeeper, many say she will sweep the floor before she leaves. To some the sweeping meant the sweeping away of the problems of the year. The child’s family typically leaves a small glass of wine and a plate with a few morsels of food, often regional or local, for the Befana.

Befana is invoked in many Italian spells, especially those for good fortune. She brings sweets for children but may be persuaded to bring the sweetness of life to adults as well.

  1. On Epiphany Eve, write her a note expressing your desires.
  2. Place it beneath a red witch-shaped candle and burn.
  3. Accompany with offerings.

She is usually portrayed as a hag riding a broomstick through the air wearing a black shawl and is covered in soot because she enters the children’s houses through the chimney. She is often smiling and carries a bag or hamper filled with candy, gifts, or both. Popular tradition tells that if one sees La Befana one will receive a thump from her broomstick, as she doesn’t wish to be seen. This aspect of the tradition may be designed to keep children in their beds.

She is also referred to as the Christmas Witch. Continue reading

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