January 6th is known as the Christian feast or day of Epiphany. For many it is the day they celebrate Christmas, the day the Magi or Three Wise Men arrived at the manger and presented gifts to the baby Jesus. The Magi leaves gifts on the Eve similar to Santa Clause on Christmas Eve. In Mexico, gifts such as candies are left in their shoes to symbolize the gifts given to Jesus. A feast is prepared and a special cake or Rosca is baked with a tiny doll, (representing the baby Jesus and the quest of the Wise Men to find him) the person who finds the doll in their piece of “Rosca” must throw a party on February 2, “Candelaria Day,” offering tamales and Atole (a hot sweet drink thickened with corn flour).
DÃa de la Candelaria (Day of the Candles or Candle Mass) represents a fusion of pre-Hispanic traditions and Catholic beliefs. Celebrated on February 2nd, Candelaria Day marks the mid-way point between the winter solstice and spring equinox. The end of the Christmas festivities, when Jesus was presented to the church. Images of baby Jesus are dressed with special clothes and taken to mass. Some areas of Mexico hold a parade, bull fight and dancing.
Here in the states, we celebrate February 2nd as Ground Hog day, the day we anxiously await the appearance of a ground hog to tell us if winter is moving on. So, we decided to combine the two and serve tamales and Atole for dinner. After tasting the Atole, the kids decided hot chocolate would be better.
1/3 cup masa harina blended with 1/4 cup warm water in blender until smooth
3 cups water or milk
5 tablespoons brown sugar or piloncillo
1 pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons vanilla or one one vanilla bean
1 to 2 tablets Mexican Chocolate
1/2 cup pureed fruit (optional)
Heat all ingredients (except for any toppings you may be using) in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat while stirring. Bring to a simmer and continue to stir frequently for 20-25 minutes until thickened. If used, remove the cinnamon stick and/or vanilla bean. Pour into mugs or thick glasses. Warm fruit puree in a small saucepan and drizzle on top of Atole. Serves 2-3