Do you get stressed out over the winter holidays? Does Christmas seem to sneak up on you too fast, and you find you just can't get all the things done that you wanted to before it arrives? My friends, I have a solution: Three Kings' Day. Apparently we like to borrow traditions around here. This one is from Latin America and some parts of Europe. The celebration takes place on January 6 and commemorates the arrival of the wise people seeking the Christ child in Bethlehem.
In a way, you're just stretching out the holiday season, so it might seem like more stress to add another one. But believe me, it is SOOO relaxing to celebrate a holiday that no one around you knows about or pressures you to observe in any particular way! We choose to give our gifts to each other on Three Kings' Day because it just seems to make more sense to connect the gift giving with those wise people. Plus, this way we can enjoy the Christmas celebrations with our extended families without having to squeeze our own family time in sometime, somewhere, somehow. We have our own Christmas season traditions that make the time special for us without the presents.
Since we've borrowed Three Kings' Day from another culture (and some cool families we know), we don't try to be all authentic with it or anything (in fact, we celebrated a week late this year on January 13--who cares?!? it's just for us!) but this year I did look up some traditional foods for the holiday and decided to make a "rosca de reyes"--Three Kings' Bread.
I won't tell you how many pictures I took trying to make this look more appealing. That would be embarrassing and seem contrary to the nature of this blog (which my husband is always accusing of not being "uncensored" enough in that I don't post every single dish I ever make). But for the record, I think it would have looked better if I had taken some sort of icing application class or just not put any of those Princess-Leia's-hair-like loops of icing on it. YET, the added sweetness was a definite bonus (I flavored the plain icing with cinnamon!), so I'll try not to be too vain about it. I also would forgo the orange slices which I put on along with the colored sugar for some festive flair. It just meant that the bread was soggy underneath and not slathered with yummy hair-like loops of icing.
The bread is eggy, lightly sweet, and lightly spiced with cinnamon and orange zest. I pretty much followed this recipe. Which is pretty much the exact same thing as the Easter bread I made last year (just switch out the orange zest for lemon zest and swap the baby Jesus for an egg! viola!). We didn't really put in a baby Jesus figurine since we don't celebrate Candlemas on February 2 (whoever bites into the figurine treats everyone to tamales at Candlemas apparently).
So you see, we pretty much do our own thing, incorporating bits and pieces of the tradition that we like. We took the bread over to my in-laws' that evening and "caroled" for them ("We Three Kings", of course!) before sharing the bread and hot chocolate together. That in itself was fun enough to make this a true tradition for our family by doing it again next year. Maybe we'll even hit the right day!