What is Roscon de Reyes, and why is it eaten in January?

There are thousands of Christmas sweets, but there is one that stands out above them all. If you don’t know what Roscon de Reyes is and why it is eaten in January… Continue reading. This may interest you!

Léelo en español

What is Roscon de Reyes?

Roscon de Reyes is a bun made with a sweet toroid-shaped dough adorned with slices of candied fruit of varied colors representing the jewels of a crown. It can be filled with whipped cream, custard cream, or also chocolate.

Inside of it, there are surprises, usually ceramic or plastic small figures, that diners may find in some slices. Besides, the most noteworthy feature of the Roscon de Reyes is the dry bean that comes inside . Tradition says that whoever finds the bean pays for the roscon.

Although it is traditionally served on the 6th of January, known as the Day of Kings, lately you can enjoy it during the last period of the Christmas holiday.

Why is Roscon de Reyes eaten in January?


Despite its name and being a Christmas sweet, its origins have nothing to do with the birth of Jesus and the arrival of the Wise Men to the Nativity Scene.

To find its true origin, it is necessary to go back to the 2nd century BC. In mid-December, after the ending of the work in the field, it took place some celebrations known as ‘Saturnales’ (in homage to Saturn, the god of agriculture and crops) in which people celebrated the end of the darkest period of the Year.

It was a time of celebration in which slaves were excused from any job, and they could idly spend those days. Among the many meals they prepared for the celebration, they made a honey cake with some nuts, dates, and figs. This dessert became one of the most popular during the celebration.

It is estimated that it was in the 3rd century when a bean was introduced. It was considered a symbol of prosperity and fertility, so the one who found it in its portion was foreshadowed a good year.

After Christianity was declared the official Roman Empire religion, pagan celebrations (including Saturnals) started to disappear. But some customs remained. For example, eating the cake that contained the bean. Over the years, it took the form of a ring.

The custom of eating this dessert was not maintained in all countries, but, in France, it became a tradition between the aristocracy and royalty. Families gathered together to eat it and see who finds the precious legume.

The modern tradition

In the eighteenth century, a cook, eager to please the little King Louis XV, introduced a gold coin as a surprise in the cake. From that moment on, the coin acquired more symbolic value than the bean. It became the desired prize, while no one wanted to find the legume.

Although the tradition of eating the Roscon de Reyes was already known in Spain, Felipe V brought the new custom of introducing the coin as a prize. Over the years, the coin was exchanged for a small ceramic figure, while the bean became a negative symbol.

Source of information: Ya está el listo que todo lo sabe

Where to find one of the best Roscones de Reyes in Madrid?

What is Roscon de Reyes, and why is it eaten in January?

During the first days of January, the sales of Roscones de Reyes soars. You can find them, especially in pastry shops and supermarkets. In the end, each family has its trusted place to buy it. So, if you want to try what is, in my opinion, one of the best, you should go to Rovier Pastry.

Besides being a totally handmade Roscon de Reyes, they have different sizes, and you can choose the filling that you like the most. In our case, we ordered it with one half of custard cream and the other of whipped cream.

Normally, the filling of these buns is so sweet that it can get tired you out. Fortunately, this is not the case, so you can eat as many portions as you want without getting tired of its taste.

If you don’t know where this pastry shop is, this map will help you locate it. I suggest you go early since they usually sell them out quickly. This time, we had to get up early to get one because, if you go to this pastry shop in the afternoon, it will be practically impossible to buy one. You know… the early bird gets the worm!


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