The Christmas season concludes this weekend with Epiphany observances

Posted On January 6, 2007

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The Christmas season concludes this weekend with Epiphany observances featuring worship, carols, gifts for children from magi and whimsical pastry.

While many churches will observe the Christian holy day with usual Sunday services, many of the weekend’s special events will have a Hispanic flavor. In Latin America, the Epiphany is also known in Spanish as Day of the Magi or Three Kings Day, and the holiday features gifts and family gatherings.

One of the region’s biggest gift giveaways will be in White Plains on Sunday at the Church of St. Bernard, when the Centro Hispano distributes hundreds of gifts donated by local groups. The Centro Hispano’s Epiphany event has grown over the decades, said Isabel Villar, the social service agency’s executive director.

Local Mexican bakeries are commemorating the holiday with a ring-shaped Epiphany cake called rosca de reyes. Yesterday, the staff at La Flor de Jalisco bakery at 217 Westchester Ave. in Port Chester had rosca boxes stacked to its ceiling. Lilia Rojas, the bakery’s co-owner, said she expected to sell between 500 and 1,000 of the cakes at $15 and $25 each.

In Mexico, the cakes are eaten on the Epiphany with hot chocolate and there is a baby Jesus doll hidden in the cake. Mexican tradition requires whoever finds the doll to have a party on February 2, the Roman Catholic feast of the Presentation of the Lord. Although Rojas’ bakery is named after a northern Mexican state, Rojas said the cakes are not eaten in Jalisco and are more typical of southern Mexico.

On Sunday in Rye, the Westchester Choral Society will offer a non-Hispanic twist on the Epiphany with Twelfth Night carols by composers Benjamin Britten, John Rutter and Ralph Vaughn Williams. The society’s 3 p.m. concert with harp and piano will be at the Rye Presbyterian Church.

This weekend is also a time for practical jokes, said Juan Pintado, owner of Foto Central at 211 Westchester Ave. in Port Chester. Pintado said in his native Ecuador the evening of the Epiphany is like April Fools’ Day.

Even though he’s thousands of miles removed from his homeland, Pintado said he’s been the target of pranks. “They call me to come to a house to take pictures and there’s nothing going on,” said Pintado, a portrait and party photographer. “It’s a way of messing with you.”