Hi All. I am giving you a few days early notice, in case you want to celebrate January 6 or Epiphany with a King Cake.
“We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:2
One of the best parts of working with five co-authors writing our book about celebrating Christmas was that I learned about traditions that were new to me. One that Cathy Messecar told me about was the Christmas King Cake, which gets its name from the symbolism of Jesus, Our King, and also from the tradition that the three kings delivered gifts to Jesus on Epiphany, twelve days after His birth. January sixth, or Epiphany, is the usual day to begin the King Cake celebrations.
This will be familiar to some of you, especially those from Louisiana and other southern areas, since this cake arrived in the United States, in New Orleans, in 1870. A King Cake is baked with a bean, or a plastic baby figurine, symbolizing the baby Jesus, in it. Tradition says that whoever gets the piece of cake with the bean or baby in it is King or Queen for that day, and is obliged to host the next Christmas King Cake party. In Louisiana it is common for schools to have the party on a Friday, with the person who finds the trinket bringing the cake for the next school day.
Cathy told me that “When I bake a King Cake with my grandchildren, I get another opportunity to teach them about the life of Christ and doing something for the sole benefit of others.”
The cakes have icing in three colors: purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power. One good tradition to share with your family is that an extra piece is always cut and set aside, and given to the next needy person you meet.
Some King Cakes use an actual bean, or a ceramic bean, instead of a baby figurine. This tradition is celebrated world wide, with each country having its own twist. Mexico celebrates “La Rosca de Reys” on January sixth, with a bean inside an oval shaped cake decorated with dried and candied figs, cherries, quinces, etc.
In France “La galette des Rois”, King Cake can be found at most bakeries during the month of January. In about 1870 the bean was replaced by a ceramic trinket called a “feve.” Feves are made in many styles and are collectibles in France today.
You can buy King Cake Mix, and I located two online stores at www.cajuncreations.com and www.cajun-shop.com that sell Mam Papaul’s Famous King Cake Mix, which includes praline filling, icing, a baby figure, and serves 12. 29 oz. for $7.99. For busy folks you can buy these cakes online for $44.95 which includes UPS overnight delivery from www.mannyrandazzo.com and bakers will find recipes at http://southernfood.about.com.
This tradition is the ideal time to read the story of the travels of the kings or wise men aloud, in Matthew 2:1-12m and to explain about Epiphany, and how they journeyed by camels over the desert, following a star and their yearning to give Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.