As you all know from the lists of funny search queries that I occasionally post, the sundry ways that people find Vocabat often make me chuckle. Sometimes, though, the specific Spanish questions me dejan gringa, and then I want to know the answer as badly as the lonely Internet wayfarer. When I don’t know the answer or can’t even make heads or tails of the question, I turn to Google and see what I can’t uncover. Usually what I find is of questionable usefulness or importance, but other times I’m fascinated by what I learn. And sometimes, like today, that info comes just in the nick of time!

Yesterday, someone wound their way to my blog with this search term: what does it mean when you find a muneco in a rosca

I had no idea, nor was I sure what a rosca was. It was ringing a bell, but that bell was far, far away and muffled under a pillow. So, I copied and pasted the phrase into Google, and, voilà! My blog came up as the very first result. So proud.

Did I once blog about finding muñecos in roscas and then forget all about it? Is this what it’s come to? No, thankfully not. At least not yet. The search took me to a popular post of erstwhile days, ¡Que te rinda! wherein Grace left me a comment explaining exactly what finding a muñeco in your rosca entails:

. . . cuando festejamos Reyes, comemos la Rosca que contiene unos niños Dios escondidos adentro. Si encuentras un muñeco en su pieza de la rosca, ¡tienes que hacer tamales y atole para el día de la Candelaria!

When we celebrate Three Kings Day, we eat a rosca that has some baby Jesuses hidden inside. If you find one of the figurines in your piece of rosca, you have to make tamales and atole for the Día de la Candelaria! (Candlemas)

Mexican rosca de Reyes

Mexican rosca de Reyes

As it happens, el Día de los Reyes was yesterday, January 6. (Epiphany/Three Kings’ Day) In many Latin American countries, children receive their gifts on this day, not on Christmas. Apparently, a very important tradition in Mexico and some other countries for Reyes is eating rosca. As they don’t do that in Colombia, I’d never even heard of it until yesterday. Shame on me for knowing so little about our neighbor to the south! Mexicans, discúlpenme.

Spanish roscón de Reyes

Spanish roscón de Reyes

Today at work, I had to ask a patient to tell me everything that she ate yesterday. Everything sounded pretty ho-hum, and then she said that after dinner she had had un poco de rosca y un poco de pastel. Come again? Believe me, if I had not briefly read about the Reyes tradition of rosca yesterday, I would not have understood her and would have had to ask for clarification. A light bulb went off in my head, though, and I went, ahhhh. Rosca! Of course. And then I asked her, ¿A usted le tocó el muñeco? When the provider stepped out for a minute, I got to ask her what roscas usually have in them. For once, I felt culturally with-it—it was a great feeling. Of course, my knowledge was a little belated; next year I will definitely have to be on top of things beforehand so I can actually try a rosca and share it with Mexican friends. I guess I have a whole year to look forward to it. Don’t they look delicious?

Argentinian rosca de Reyes

Argentinian rosca de Reyes

Did you eat a rosca de Reyes yesterday? Did you celebrate el Día de los Reyes Magos some other way? If you’re from another country, what day are gifts exchanged in your country? Who brings them? All right, people, keep the searches coming! You guys are great teachers, and even when you’re just looking for things like “bat teeth” or “donald daisy duck lovestory,” I always get a kick out of you.

(As a side note, in Colombia, a rosca is usually a clique, exclusive ingroup, or “mafia.” It’s frequently used when talking about not being able to break into a certain job or industry because you don’t know the right people. Or if [you perceive that] your favorite sports team or player is consistently screwed over, you’ll probably bitterly blame it on a rosca.)


11 responses to “Rosca

  1. Jaja, sí, acá también comemos rosca. ^^

    Escribí una entrada en Lang-8 sobre el Día de Reyes. En mi pueblo se hace una fiesta a la noche y se le regalan juguetes a los nenes; yo ayudé a recaudar dinero para los regalos vendiendo vales de comida. Fue muy lindo, y lo volvería a hacer. :)

    Lo del muñeco es nuevo para mí. No conocía esa tradición.



  2. They also eat rosca here in Spain but the person that gets the piece with the figurine has to buy the cake the following year!


    • Nice. I don’t know how often they actually follow up and make the muñeco-finder make the tamales— I was reading some tweets on Twitter, and it seemed more like people just enjoyed the game and would roll their eyes at any party poopers who would ruin the moment by reminding the lucky/unlucky person of their tamales responsibility.


  3. I actually had a piece of Rosca last night, and luckily (unluckily?) la muñeca no salió. The verb salir is what my friends used to talk about finding the muñeca. “Si sale la muñeca….”.

    We also had some traditional Guatemalan/Mexican dishes (I should have taken photos, dang it!) which were very good. We also had a little fun with karaoke, in Spanish of course. I plan on blogging about the whole experience in more detail at some point, hopefully sooner rather than later.

    Great post!


  4. whatwhileweslept

    I loved reading this entry. I knew the rosca de Reyes looked/sounded familiar, and I just realized that this is a Cajun/Mardi Gras tradition, too, except they just call it a “king cake.” Baby and all. (Though I’ve always though New Orleans king cakes were gaudy and kind of hideous, while these cakes are really cool-looking. Esp. the Argentinian one.) I love how much I learn from this blog.


  5. I can see that you’re really making up for the time lost when it comes to blog posts. Whenever I come here, I see new ones :)
    I knew about “roscón” though I had to read your entry to get the info from the abysses of my memory. The post loopingpensamientos wrote reminded me of the figurine thing.
    Here, in Poland, children can get presents twice, if they are lucky. On Dec 6, Mikołaj (St. Nicholas) is said to bring little treats, and then there is Santa Claus/Father Christmas who comes just after the Christmas Eve dinner. Confusingly, Santa is called “Święty Mikołaj” (St. Nicholas) in many parts of Poland. In the region where I live the guy who comes on Dec 24 is popularly called “Gwiazdor” which often cracks up people from other parts of Poland, because in the standard Polish the word means “a famous person (male), a celebrity)”. No wonder, in both meanings you’ve got the root “gwiazda” (star). A colloquial word for Christmas in Poland is “Gwiazdka” (Little Star); I guess it’s because the first-appearing star plays an important role in 24 Dec celebrations in Poland [/lecture in the Polish culture] :D


    • Jeje, yes. Well, I just want to be a better blogger, and I figure that the only way to get better is by doing it almost every day. Hopefully most of it proves interesting and useful to readers– I’d sure hate people to think I was just padding my blog with filler.

      Gwiazdor! Celebrity Santa! I love it. Thanks so much for the mini-lecture.


  6. Pingback: World Cup Spanish- Colombia’s out | Vocabat

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