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Let ’em Eat Cake!

January 6th, 2012 by stephanie

Just so you know, the 12 Days of Christmas ended today. But don’t be sad, today starts something else. I might be the first person to wish you HAPPY CARNIVAL SEASON.

Most of you may be thinking, “But it’s too cold for a fair.” Nope. Not that kind of amusement, but the kind of carnival season that leads up to Mardi Gras. And believe it or not, it’s already in full swing.

In case you didn’t know, Carnival Season officially kicks off today, January 6. The day known as EPIPHANY, or Twelfth Night. And, if you have a New Orleans connection, you most likely had a piece of King Cake to kick off the festivities.

What I find fascinating is that this celebration occurs every year but few know what’s really being celebrated. Here’s the break down:
1. Epiphany (Twelfth Night) celebrates the visit of the three Wise Men who journeyed to worship the baby Jesus.
2. On that day a King Cake is made with a tiny baby figurine hidden inside.
3. The cake is decorated in three colors.
3. When the cake is cut, whoever gets the piece with the baby Jesus is “king” for a day.

For me, like any festival, it’s all about the food. And for those in the Deep Southern states, who do the Mardi Gras thing, it’s all about the King Cake or Twelfth Night Cake. Supposedly, the Wisemen’s journey lasted 12 days and found them arriving on January 6-Epiphany. Coming together for you a bit?

This cake is similar to the All-American cinnamon roll, topped with icing or sugar, usually baked in a ring shape, and, frosted or iced with the three colors of Mardi Gras: gold, green, and purple (symbolic of power, faith, and justice). And of course, in honor of our three kings.

The baker of the King Cake hides a surprise in the cake, usually a dried red bean or a figurine of a baby representing the Christ child. When the cake is cut whoever gets the piece with the hidden treasure is said to enjoy good luck for the coming year. Tradition used to be that you were king for a day. Nowadays, you have to bake the King Cake or throw the Mardi Gras party next year.

Whatever the case, I am always amazed, that if you look deep enough into most holidays or festivals (at least those created prior to the 1900s) you will find a religious connection or symbolism.

And now you know. I’ll share more on Carnival itself later.
Just my thoughts,
S.

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