A special culinary treat customarily served on January 6 is the rosca de reyes – a sweet bread shaped in round or oblong form and decorated with jewel-like candied fruits to resemble a crown. Bakers slip tiny plastic figures shaped like infants into the dough before popping the bread in the oven.
Rosca babies symbolize efforts to keep the Christ Child hidden from the wrathful King Herod. Originally fashioned from clay or porcelain, nowadays they are usually made of plastic.
The slicing of the rosca always generates great excitement, for the person served a portion containing a niño is designated as the padrino (godparent) who will take charge of festivities for Candlemas, celebrated February 2 to wrap up the Christmas season. The padrino’s duties for Dia la Candelaria include providing a new outfit for the figure of the Baby Jesus in the family’s nativity scene for the levantamiento del niño (sitting up) and hosting the tamale and atole party that follows.