La Galette des Rois or How to Be King for A Day?

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.

Galette des rois | OrganicIsBeautiful.
Galette des rois | OrganicIsBeautiful. Image Credit Wikipedia.

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

Galette des rois France | OrganicIsBeautiful. Image Credit Wikipedia.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.

galette des rois organicisbeautiful
galette des rois

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.

Source: MaisonTravers


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20 thoughts on “La Galette des Rois or How to Be King for A Day?”

  1. King Cake! I have eaten (and made) a lot of the New Orleans version of it. I made my first one on Epiphany – but in New Orleans, they get made and eaten all during Mardi Gras/Carnival season. And there is a baby inside. Whoever gets the slice with the baby is responsible for bringing the next King Cake!

  2. Pingback: My Article Read (1-7-2016) | My Daily Musing

    1. Thank you for you comment on my blog Chirstina. It is true that they are so many local traditions that myself I am unfamiliar with. For instance, in Malaysia, the Diwali ritual. I had the chance to see it, believe me, it is very interesting 😉

      Have a great day!

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