MADRID – Spaniards will celebrate this year’s King’s Day festivities by opening their Christmas gifts and sharing over 30 million roscones, or Three Kings’ Day cakes, a three-percent increase on 2018 figures, according to a baking industry spokesperson who spoke with EFE on Thursday.
This rise is partly due to the increasingly earlier Christmas sales season.
Kings’ Day pastries were traditionally eaten to celebrate the Epiphany but its origins date back to sweet pastries eaten during pagan Saturnalian festivities celebrating the winter solstice, predating the Christian era.
According to Felipe Ruano, president of Spain’s bread and pastry baking industry association (Asemac), what used to be a product consumed exclusively on Jan. 5 and 6 is now being purchased weeks in advance.
“The manufacturing industry (of Kings’ Day cakes) has been given a massive head start as the Christmas sales season grows longer by the year,” he said. “Restaurant chains and supermarkets are placing their orders very early on when in the past, demand did not take off until Christmas was well underway,” he added.
This upward trend has apparently continued regardless of more recent competitors such as the Italian “panettone.”
Of the 30 million King’s Day cakes, which are round or oval in shape and topped with dried fruits, nearly half will be manufactured in artisan bakeries, which are also confident in a successful sales campaign.
Jose Fernandez, master patissier of Madrid’s Pastelerias Nunos, said the roscon de Reyes was a year-round classic at his bakery, adding that even during Christmas, they now launch special collections inspired by children’s films such as “Frozen” or “101 Dalmatians.”