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Dozens line up to get their traditional “Rosca de Reyes” in Santa Maria

At Panadería Mana, bakers make over one thousand “Roscas de Reyes” to celebrate this Catholic, Hispanic tradition that commemorates the gifts the three wise men gave to Jesus.
Dozens line up to get their traditional “Rosca de Reyes” in Santa Maria
Posted at 6:14 PM, Jan 06, 2022

The Rosca de Reyes is a one-of-a-kind bread.

“We just make some hot chocolate, and we eat our Rosca with our kids. We try to transfer our traditions to our kids,” said Eunice Macías, who partakes in this tradition every year.

Día de Reyes is known as Three Kings Day or Epiphany Day, a Christian feast in which the three wise men brought gifts to baby Jesus.

“We would put a shoe under the tree or a stocking and instead of filling up the stocking for Christmas, we fill up the stocking for Rosca de Reyes,” recalled Patricia Ortíz, who bought a Rosca de Reyes at Panadería Mana in Santa Maria on Thursday.

This is why there are hidden baby Jesus figurines inside the bread.

“I just save them and have them as collection,” said Juan Vargas, who went with his mom and brother for a traditional bread.

There are consequences for whoever gets the figurine.

“You’re supposed to make tamales on February 2nd, so that’s the tradition," added Macías.

Mana has been around for 25 years in Santa Maria. Every Jan. 6, bakers come in at 6 a.m.

A giant mixer works non-stop to make the fluffy dough.

Oziel Martínez is a baker at Mana. He explained that they mix in milk, water, eggs, sugar and other spices.

Then, it is time to weigh each batch to make this oval-shaped bread.

Martínez explained that they add a sugar paste and dried fruit on top to decorate the bread, and then they are ready to go in the oven.

After the Roscas cool down, workers hide the baby Jesus figurines.

Rosa León, Mana’s manager, said that January 6th is the busiest day of the year for them, so they prepare a month in advance. They put together boxes and place orders to make sure they have enough ingredients.

Although it is a lot of hard work, bakers said they are proud to keep this Hispanic tradition alive for the Santa Maria community.

“I did it with my family traditionally growing up as well as with my husband and his family,” said Ortíz.

Whoever gets the baby Jesus has to make or bring tamales on February 2nd which is the Christian celebration of the presentation of baby Jesus to the temple.