Celebrated every year on January 6th, or the first Sunday after New Year, Epiphany Day commemorates the day the kings, or wise men came to visit Jesus in the nativity story. The Twelve Days of Christmas mark the time between Christmas Day and this event. In France, the day is a huge celebration, centred around La Galette des Rois.
La Galette des Rois, translated as ‘King Cake’ is a cake which must be divided, so each guest gets a slice. The recipe is quite elaborate and is decorated with intricate patterns. The cake is traditionally bought, and made of puff pastry and frangipane, though the type of Galette de Rois can vary depending on where you are in France. Northern France is where you will find the large puff pastry cake; in Provence, you may find the King Cake is a doughnut-shaped brioche draped with candied fruits.
A charm, called la fêve in France, which is usually a figure representing baby Jesus, is hidden in the centre of the cake, and the lucky person who gets the charm in their slice is named king or queen for the day.
Sharing out the slices is not done in the way you would expect either; a child, often the youngest in the party, is sent under the table and directs the server to whom to give the cake slices to. This means the person who ends up with the charm is chosen by chance.
Being named as king or queen comes with privileges, such as keeping the charm, or getting out the chores for the day. The king or queen may also be assigned a special job, such as getting the King Cake for the next year. Many store-bought cakes also come with a golden crown the king or queen can wear for the remainder of the day.
Wherever you are when staying at our holiday villas in France, the epiphany cake is an excuse for family and friends to come together. The cake is often served with cider, sweet white wine or a cup of tea. If you are in search of a King Cake on your holiday, every boulangerie-patisserie, or bakery, in France sells a variety of them throughout the whole of January.
Let us know via our social media channels if you join in with celebrating the Epiphany when holidaying in France in January!
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