Notes from Barcelona: Roscón de Reyes

I used to think that the Twelve Days of Christmas (as in the famous carol) were the lead-up to the 25th. Turns out, they’re Christmas Day through January 5th (also known as Twelfth Night or Epiphany Eve). The lead-up is Advent, as in the calendars.

On Twelfth Night, the Three Kings (also known as the Three Wise Men or Magi) are said to have brought gifts (frankincense, gold, and myrrh) to the newly-born Baby Jesus. 

Here in Barcelona, and in other Spanish-speaking countries, there is a specific pastry to celebrate the occasion. It’s called a Roscón de Reyes, and it looks like this:

Paper crown, explanatory paper, and Roscón de Reyes cake

The one pictured above has candied fruit with marzipan on the interior, and I can tell you firsthand that it’s delicious!

The tradition here in Barcelona is that there are figurines representing the Three Kings inside the cake, as well as a dried bean. Finding a figurine is good luck. Whomever gets the bean with their piece is obliged to pay for the cake (bad luck?).

In Mexico, there are figurines of the Baby Jesus hidden in the cake, and whomever finds them is blessed.

Tonight in Barcelona, there are Parades of Kings (Cabalgata de Reyes) in neighborhoods throughout the city, as well as a grand main parade. At these parades, the Three Kings toss sweets to the onlookers, among other festivities.

Update #1: Found the Bean

Plate showing green ceramic "bean" with smiley face and marzipan residue

Update #2: Found the King

Plate showing ceramic "king" with marzipan residue