The origin and meaning of the Three Kings Bread

Today we bring you a list to explain the meaning of some of its most characteristic elements

The origin and meaning of the Three Kings Bread
Its oval or circular shape has to do with the infinite cycle of the love of God, which has no beginning or end - Photo: File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
English 04/01/2019 14:51 Notimex Mexico City Actualizada 15:19

Three Kings Day is only a few days away. In line with Mexican tradition, families will gather around a delicious, soft ‘Rosca’ –Three Kings Bread- to celebrate the arrival of the Three Wise Men. Did you know that each of its ingredients has symbols and hidden meanings that date back several hundreds of years ago?

Although the Three Kings Bread tradition is deeply rooted in Mexico, where it has become a pretext for family gatherings, it is of European origin and born from Catholic faith. Today we bring you a list to explain the meaning of some of its most characteristic elements:

Popular myths about the Three Wise Men

1- Shape: The circle (or oval) represents the scripture passage describing the encounter between the Three Wise Men and the Christ child.

Its oval or circular shape has to do with the infinite cycle of the love of God, which has no beginning or end.

2- Origin: The Three Kings Bread is the result of a story of faith and sacrifice, and of three men who followed a luminous star all the way to Bethlehem to adore the Infant God, a tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages and arrived in Mexico (or New Spain) during the Viceroyship.

Nowadays, the Mexican people commemorate this event on the morning of January 6th, when it is customary for children to receive presents just like the Three Wise Men brought presents for Jesus.

Did the Star of Bethlehem really exist?

3- Porcelain Jesus: Though it is most commonly made of plastic, the small figurine hidden inside the Three Kings Bread represents Baby Jesus. There is usually more than one figurine, which symbolizes the trouble that the three magi went through to find the baby since the star was disappearing.

According to a codex in the Paris Library, during the 7th century, these men were called Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthazar.

The race diversity represented through the biblical magi alludes to the diversity of peoples in the world.

4- Presents from the Three Wise Men: In Mexico, the tradition of the three biblical magi was known and spread by Catholic missioners since the 16th century, who introduced the habit of giving presents to children on January 6.

In some Mexican homes, children still leave their shoes near the Christmas tree, in hopes of finding a present on the morning of Three Kings Day.

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