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Inland Mexican bakeries work around the clock to prepare for Three Kings Day

By in Press Enterprise on January 4, 2018

By Alejandra Molina

Preparing for the kings isn’t easy.

As they do in the first days of each new year, workers at Mexican bakeries are scrambling to get ready for Saturday, Jan. 6 — the Day of the Epiphany that’s also known as El Día de Los Reyes, or Three Kings Day.

At Chela’s Panaderia on Riverside’s Eastside, bakers have been working past midnight to make sure they’re fully stocked every morning this week with la rosca de reyes, or the kings’ ring.

Maria de Guadalupe Martinez, a 21-year-old cashier at Chela’s, said the shop has been “super busy.”

On Saturday celebrants will share the sweet, round, pastry called la rosca de reyes. The pastry symbolizes the visit of the three wise men who followed the star to Bethlehem to see the Christ child. They came bearing gold, frankincense and myrrh.

In Latin American countries, the day is the equivalent of Christmas Day in the United States. Many Latino families in the U.S. celebrate the tradition as well.

Children put out their shoes so the kings know how many gifts they should leave for kids living in the house. Families gather to eat the pastry with coffee or hot chocolate.

Martinez, whose grandparents own the shop, said bakers began making the pastries last Thursday. The busiest days will be Friday, Jan. 5, through Sunday, Jan. 7, she said.

Hidden inside the the dough are small, plastic, 1 1/4-inch babies, representing Joseph and Mary’s concealment of Jesus from King Herod.

As the tradition goes, anyone who finds Jesus in their slice, must host a party on Feb. 2, known as Día de la Candelaria. It’s exactly 40 days after Christ’s birth, when Mary visited the temple in Jerusalem.

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