king cake in english & spanish

an article by uriel j. garcia on talks about one of the most important parts of the mexican celebration of dia de los reyes  (three kings day or epiphany in english): king cake.

rosca de reyes king cake
rosca de reyes aka king cake (

garcia gives a description of what locals in santa fe, new mexico (usa) are doing today

many pueblo indians will observe three kings day with a mass and the public presentation of recently appointed and elected tribal leaders. meanwhile, mexican immigrants across the state will gather at the homes of relatives or friends, where children will open presents and families will eat tamales and bite into a pastry called la rosca de reyes — or king cake.

mass is a catholic church service. meanwhile means at the same time. gather means come together. pastry is sweet bread or cake.

king cake baby   

the babies in new orleans king cakes (left) are different than the niños in the roscas in mexico (right). [robert giglio,, ]

part of the tradition of king cake connects it to another celebration a month later

whoever gets the slice of cake with the baby jesus is obliged to prepare a dinner the following feb. 2 to celebrate the day of the virgin of the candelaria.

in mexico, february 2 is known simply as dia de la candelaria, and the person who finds a baby in the king cake on jan.6 has to (is obliged to) bring tamales for everyone on feb. 2, not necessarily a whole dinner.


the customs in mexico and new mexico are a result of spanish influence in america.

lemon king cake
a lemon king cake from randazzo king cakes in new orleans describes a similar but slightly different celebration in new orleans, louisiana (usa) a former french colony

the mardi gras or carnival season officially begins on january 6th or the “twelfth night,” also known to christians as the “epiphany.”

and the cake eater who finds a baby

is named “king” for a day and bound by custom to host the next party and provide the king cake.

bound, similar to obliged, means required.

mardi gras king cake
a mardi gras parade in new orleans (ap photo/the advocate, matthew hinton)

new orleans is famous for its celebration of mardi gras, french for fat tuesday. mardi gras season ends with one final night of crazy partying on fat tuesday. the next day, ash wednesday, lent starts and christians should begin a 40 day period of abstention and spiritual observation.

fun english practice :) richyrocks english on youtube

like the majority of their english speaking former colonists in america, modern england doesn’t have a strong epiphany celebration.

fruitcake king cake
fruitcake (

Let’s bring back the glorious food traditions of Twelfth Night (largely, lots of cake)

bring back means return. derry reasons….

these days, not many brits know much about twelfth night, but in the [past] it was more important than christmas day. and there are plenty of epiphany rituals – especially regarding food – which are well worth passing onto the next generation.

regarding means about in this usage.

twelfth night ritual theatre royal

actors from the theatre royale on drury lane share a twelfth night cake

while the twelfth night cake is not currently customary for everyone in england, some folks have kept the tradition alive

actors of the theatre royal on drury lane have kept the ancient twelfth night traditions alive since 1796 with twelfth night cake, traditionally a rich fruitcake with a bean or charm baked into it. (the trinket symbolized luck or prosperity for whoever found it).

charm and trinket are synonyms. they are little ornaments and are the equivalent of the babies found in king cakes/roscas in america.

charms king cake
don’t bite into a twelfth night cake too hard, it’s got charms (trinkets) in it.

do u eat a special kind of cake to celebrate the twelfth day of christmas/epiphany/reyes magos? what do u think of the tradition? share your feelings under leave a reply



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