Rendez-Vous #29: It’s Time to Eat the King Cake!
A king cake is a type of cake associated in a number of countries with the festival of Epiphany – celebrated on January 6 – at the end of the Christmas season; in other places, it is associated with the celebrations of Mardi Gras/Carnival. It is a popular food item in Belgium, France, Quebec and Switzerland.
The “king cake” takes its name from the biblical three kings. In Catholic liturgical tradition, the Epiphany celebrates the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child. But originally, during the Saturnalia (Roman festivals) the Romans designated a slave as “King for a Day”. The Saturnalia was a role reversal party to thwart the adverse days of Saturn. Click here for more info.
Tradition holds that the cake is “to draw the kings” to the Epiphany. A figurine, la fève, which can represent anything (e.g. a cartoon character) is hidden in the cake and the person who finds the trinket in his/her slice becomes king for the day and will have to offer the next cake. Click here to see the recipe.
Fun Fact: In France, this tradition is taken so seriously that to ensure the recipient of thefève is random, the individuals gathered will ask the youngest (usually a child) to go under the table while the person dishes up. For each slice, the child designates a guest who will then be given that specific piece of the cake.
Newsletter #29 – It’s Time to Eat the King Cake!