The Epiphany, Three Kings Day & the start of Mardi Gras
Gifts to our King
The gift of gold was significant because it showed the Magis paying tribute to Jesus Christ as their King because he is royal.
The gift of frankincense was a gift of experience. Known in the Bible to be a symbol of the divinity of God (Song of Solomon 1:3, Malachi 1:11), when Frankincense is burned the aroma is both fragrant and pleasing. Having the God-given wisdom and discernment to understand the foretold prophesies, this gift symbolized the Magis recognition of the divinity of Jesus Christ.
The gift of myrrh would have been a highly unusual gift to give to a child, as it was primarily used in the Bible for embalming the dead. However, this gift symbolized the Magis recognition that Jesus would fulfill the prophesy of Isaiah and ultimately die to provide salvation to those who would call upon Hisname.
How does Epiphany connect to Easter: From the period of the Nativity of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, through the 12 days of Christmas, which leads up to the feast of the Epiphany. It is the Epiphany, the coming of the Magis, which is the turning point. On this day, January 6th, Mardi Gras officially begins every year and ends on Fat Tuesday which is the day before Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is the start of Lent and 46 days before Easter.
Tradition & Recipe:
On this day we celebrate with
La Galette des Rois: The French King Cake
or aka Twelfth Night Cake
Who will be the King & Queen of your feast?
The "king cake" takes its name from the biblical kings. In Western Christian liturgical tradition, the Solemnity of Epiphany—commemorated on January 6—celebrates the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child. The Eve of Epiphany (the night of January 5) is popularly known as Twelfth Night (the Twelve Days of Christmas are counted from Christmas Eve until this night). The season for king cake extends from the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas (Twelfth Night and Epiphany Day), up until the end of Shrovetide: Mardi Gras, "Fat Tuesday," or Shrove Tuesday; the day before the start of Lent (Ash Wednesday).
Traditionally, a small plastic or porcelain baby is hidden into the king cake. Originally, the baby was placed into the cake to symbolize baby Jesus. Fava beans were also used to represent Jesus.
Today, the baby symbolizes luck and prosperity to whoever finds it in his/her slice of cake. In some traditions, the finder of the baby is designated “king” or “queen” for the evening. That person is also responsible for purchasing next year’s cake, or for throwing the next Mardi Gras party.
Many bakers have recently been placing the baby outside of the cake, and leaving the hiding to the customer because there is a potential of customers choking on or swallowing the baby.
La Galette des Rois: The French King Cake
1 cup (100g) almond flour
1/2 cup sugar
zest of an orange
3 1/2 ounces (100g) unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons rum
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1 pound (450g) puff pastry, divided in two pieces, chilled
1 egg yolk &1 teaspoon milk
To make the almond filling, combine the almond flour, sugar, salt, and orange zest. Mix in the butter until its completely incorporated. Stir in the eggs one at a time, along with the rum and almond extract. Cover and chill.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll one piece of puff pastry into a circle about 9 1/2-inches (23cm) round. Using a pot lid as a template, trim the dough into neat circle. Place the dough on the baking sheet. Repeat, make a 2nd circle
Chill the dough for thirty minutes.
Remove the dough and almond filling from the refrigerator. Place only one circle of dough on the parchment lined baking sheet. Spread the almond filling over the center of the dough, leaving a 1-inch (3cm) exposed border.
Brush water generously around the exposed perimeter of the dough then place the other circle of dough on top of the galette and press down to seal the edges very well. (At this point, you may wish to chill the galette since itll be a bit easier to finish and decorate, although its not necessary. It can be refrigerated overnight at this point, if you wish.)
To bake the galette, preheat the oven to 375ºF (180ºC.) Flute the sides of the dough and use a paring knife to create a design on top. Stir together the egg yolk with the milk and brush it evenly over the top avoid getting the glaze on the sides, which will inhibit the pastry from rising at the edges. Use a paring knife to poke 5 holes in the top, to allow steam escape while baking.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until the galette is browned on top and up the sides.
Don't forget to hide a pea or baby (to represent the Baby Jesus) for luck!
What happens at a Twelfth Night party? According to the 1923 Dennison’s Christmas Book, “there should be a King and a Queen, chosen by cutting a cake…” The Twelfth Night Cake has a bean and a pea baked into it. The man who finds the bean in his slice of cake becomes King for the night while the lady who finds a pea in her slice of cake becomes Queen for the night. The new King and Queen sit on a throne and “paper crowns, a scepter and, if possible, full regalia are given them.” The party continues with games such as charades as well as eating, dancing, and singing carols. For large Twelfth Night celebrations, a costume party is suggested.