You may be back at work but don’t start the detox just yet, because Christmas doesn’t finish until the Twelfth Night is done. No, not the Shakespeare play of the same name, but the festivities marking Epiphany, the arrival of the three kings to baby Jesus.
These days, not many people know much about Twelfth Night, but in the medieval and Tudor periods, it was more important than Christmas Day.
∴ A French Tradition
In France, it is called a Galette des Rois and is puff pastry filled with almond paste or frangipane and in the north, Provence and Languedoc it is a Gateau des Rois, a rich brioche made with candied fruits and nuts. Either way, a “fève” or charm is hidden in the cake.
∴ A bit of History
Epiphany is fixed in the christian calendar on January 6 each year, exactly 12 days after the birth of Jesus. And there are plenty of Epiphany rituals – especially regarding food. But as most people no longer have the day off work, it is celebrated on the first Sunday in January and theoretically that is the day, the galette may be cut.
Here in France, L’Epiphanie as it is called, is celebrated with cake.
La Galette des Rois or King’s Cake is eaten for several weeks starting right after Christmas. There are variations on the kind of cake, depending where in France you live.
According to tradition, the cake must be divided so that each guest gets a slice plus an extra one called the part du Bon Dieu/Pauvre (Good Lord/Poor) which is reserved for any unexpected stranger. When there are children, the youngest, must go under the table and directs the person serving to whom each slice must be given. The lucky one who gets the fève/charm becomes king or queen for the day and is given a golden crown in paper to wear.