GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Despite the COVID-19 pandemic canceling most of the typical Carnival activities, it hasn’t derailed bakeries across South Mississippi from creating their traditional cakes, and that includes Panaderia Bakery Latino in Gulfport.
“In this case, this is a Mexican tradition,” said co-owner Isabelle Castro.
Castro and her crew spent the morning before Christmas officially ends putting the finishing touches on about 40 roscas de reyes.
The bakery has been making the cakes for the past three years for customers in the neighborhood and for stores stretching from New Orleans to Pascagoula.
While the crew is focused on supplying the holiday demand, they also said the work is important for their culture.
“This is for Latinos to remember the season’s traditions,” Castro said.
The cakes also help people remember the countries and customs they left behind.
“We do this so we don’t forget the traditions from the places where we were born,” Castro said.
While there are some differences between la rosca de reyes and king cake, some of their traditions share similarities.
“It’s to remember the birth of Jesus Christ,” Castro said.
Everything from the cake’s shape to its decorations is tied to the birth story.
“What we put on the cake has different colors that symbolizes the gifts the wise men brought to Christ as a baby,” Castro said.
There’s even a small figure buried inside that represents the flight of the Holy Family, fleeing from King Herod’s Massacre of the Innocents.
Those that find it in their slice have to host a tamale dinner for everyone eating the cake.
While the cakes come in a traditional way, the bakery is willing to do custom orders and in various sizes.
“(We do) small, medium and large,” Castro said.