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Not Your Ordinary Cake

“I found one”. I have never been so excited to find out that a piece of food I put into my mouth had a piece of plastic in it.

I reenter the break room of the manufacturing company I have recently helped get back on track and which is living with more purpose. My arm thrust above my head with the small, white plastic figurine between my fingers, I approach Miguel who reminds me that in 2013 I will be especially blessed.

“I forgot to tell you about one thing” he says with a slight grin on his face.

Just ten minutes earlier, Miguel had offered me what I thought was a regular slice of pastry to go along with my morning coffee. Curious about the size of the cake and the picture of the Three Kings and the Star, I proceed to ask him what the celebration is all about.

CakeHe says ‘Rosca De Reyes’ is a tradition where hidden within the large, round cake are three figurines that are supposed to look like baby Jesus. Each person gets one slice of cake and those who find one will receive good luck in the coming year.

I do a quick Google search to learn more. It is done on January 6th or what is known as “Día de Reyes” (literally “Kings’ Day”), which commemorates the arrival of the three Wise Men and the Epiphany. In Spain, Latin America, and in Hispanic communities in the US, this is the day that children traditionally receive presents – not from Santa Claus – but from the Three Wise Men.  Before the children go to bed, they leave their shoes outside filled with hay or dried grass to provide food for the animals the Three Wise Men are riding.

The tradition of hiding baby Jesus in the cake is old. It represents Jesus fleeing from Herod the Great’s evil plan to kill all babies that could be the messiah that was prophesied. Whoever finds the baby Jesus figurine is blessed and must take it to the nearest church on February 2 for the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin and the presentation of Jesus.

There is also one more responsibility that Miguel can’t wait to share with me.  He ends his silence by saying “Marc, in early February, you and the other two people need to provide a feast of tamales for all of the people who participated.”

My excitement is temporarily blunted, but quickly returns as I will gladly host a tamale lunch in exchange for a year of blessings.

For thousands of years, people have used traditions and rituals to live more harmoniously and pass principles and values to future generations.  What rituals and traditions are you using to strengthen your culture?

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3 Comments on “Not Your Ordinary Cake”

  1. Heidi Koehler March 9, 2013 at 8:27 am #

    Very good my love

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Boris March 11, 2013 at 10:09 pm #

    Nice story and a good reminder of how important it is to build and nurture a good culture in your company

  3. weterynarz ca³odobowy trójmiasto April 2, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

    Have you ever considered creating an ebook or guest authoring on other websites? I have a blog based on the same subjects you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my readers would value your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an e-mail.

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