The wonderful origin of Roscón de Reyes

If we ask you about a typically Christmas sweet, tremendously popular in Spain, which is usually eaten on the night of Kings, or also on Three Kings Day, it is quite possible that you agree with us that we are talking about the delicious roscón de Reyes.

It is, as you surely know, a typical or traditional sweet that every year is eaten in most Spanish houses during the popular festival of the Magi, either the same day of the celebration of the Three Kings' Parade ( on January 5), or directly during the celebration of the holiday the following day (January 6).

It is a wonderful dessert without a doubt, that combines the aroma and flavor of the tradition with the magic that wraps that day, especially by the little ones of the house.

If we had to define it, we could say that The Roscón de Reyes is a round shaped bun, made with sweet dough and decorated with slices of candied fruit and sugar. Inside it is placed a "surprise" and a bean, so that the tradition tells that whoever gets the latter must pay for it.

This is the definition of the traditional roscón, because in reality it is common to split it in half and fill it with cream or cream (the most basic, since nowadays it is possible to find it with infinity of fillings, from nougat to chocolate, passing through cream Catalan, lemon ...).

What is the origin of the Roscón de Reyes?

To investigate a little about the origin of the Roscón de Reyes, or at least a sweet resemblance that reminds us a lot of him and where it would seem to proceed, we must travel to the Roman Saturnalia, which were celebrations that the Roman people celebrated in honor of the god Saturn, in order that they could enjoy longer days after the winter solstice.

At that time, the common was the celebration of some round cakes, which were made with delicious figs, dates and honey. These sweets were distributed equally between commoners and slaves, and became a moment of joy for the people.

Although it is not known for sure, it seems that the roscón de reyes already appears in the third century, at which time-precisely-the Church tends to institutionalize the feast of the Magi. From those moments, it was common that, during this festivity, sweet desserts were distributed to the poor like the cake of honey, dates and figs, in which a dry bean was later introduced.

And, precisely, one of the most common was a cake or roscón (called in France gâteau de la fève, where it became very popular) that contained a bean inside. Apparently, who was that bean was named King of the Haba (Roi de la Fève, in French), and if a child was filled with gifts, being the object of great attention.

In fact, at the moment in which the dry bean began to be introduced, the tradition began that, whoever it was, was namedKing of Kings for a short period of time.

Since then, the consumption of roscón de reyes By this time it was spreading and becoming increasingly popular, until King Felipe V imported into Spain the French tradition.

Of course, in regard to the shape of the roscón itself, it seems that the circular shape of the dessert began to resemble a crown just at the moment in which the Church institutionalized the roscón, symbolizing eternity, and as a way of remembering the crown that supposedly the Kings granted to the Child Jesus.

The tradition of the Roscón de Reyes in Spain

Although the Spanish tradition of the Roscón de Reyes is not as well known, and there are doubts about its origin, already in the twelfth century there seem to be testimonies related to the King of the Faba or the Roscón de Reyes.

The first of the testimonies, collected by Julio Caro Baroja in his workThe carnival, would date from the year 1361 corresponding to the Kingdom of Navarre, which would designate 'King of Faba' the child who found the bean in the sweet.

The second of the testimonies would correspond to an Andalusian poet named Ben Quzman, who in hisSong book I would describe a similar tradition that would have as its protagonist a hallón or hallullo (cake), which was enjoyed in the new year and which contained a coin in its interior.

However, it is said that King Louis XV was amazed with the roscón, and in order to spread this sweet with a coin inside as a surprise he began to introduce it between the French and European aristocracy. This is how he arrived in our country, at the hands of the House of Bourbons.

Little by little, over the years, the custom went from noble to the village, where it acquired great importance among the citizens of Madrid and Seville, where it became important bastions of this wonderful work of confectionery. ThemesChristmas

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