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Last updateFri, 17 Nov 2017 11am

Feasting on the bread of kings

During the first week of January, Mexican bakeries and grocery outlets will be stocked with rosca de reyes, a crown-shaped lightly sweetened bread decorated with jewel-like candied fruits that is the traditional Kings Day holiday treat.

Before the loaves go in the oven, the baker stuffs one or more tiny baby dolls into the raw dough. The infant figures symbolize hiding of the Christ Child for protection from the bloodthirsty King Herod.

Families and friends customarily gather on January 6 to share a rosca, on the understanding that anyone who cuts a slice studded with a doll will be designated as a godparent of the Baby Jesus and by extension, host for a traditional Dia de la Candelaria (Candlemas) tamale feast to be held on February 2 as the holiday season finale.

Mexico’s lucky new year traditions

A New Year. As that fateful moment rolls across the globe from Kiribati to American Samoa a multitudinous collection of traditions dot the human landscape. Fireworks burn sulfur and charcoal across the skies, the ball drops in Times Square, “The Blue Danube” pours through the streets of Vienna, and 108 strikes ring from the gongs of Buddhist temples across Japan. People seize on the changing of that last little number in the date to update themselves, to refresh their goals and molt the accumulation of misdeeds, heartache, apprehension, and plain old ill luck. Latin people are especially fond of a number of superstitions to birth an auspicious new year, Mexicans being no exception.

Putting Mexican violence into perspective

The way Mexico is portrayed in some corners of the media you could be forgiven for thinking the entire country is one giant war zone; that it is unsafe to walk the streets for the risk of being gunned down by bloodthirsty drug gangs.