Friday, 6 January 2006

Feast of no kings

January 6 is of course Twelfth Night or the "Fête des Rois" - "feast of the (3) kings" (Epiphany) - and this week Belgian pastry shops have been selling special almond-filled cakes called "galette des rois" which come surrounded by a cardboard crown. Whoever finds the lucky charm - now usually china or plastic, but it used to be a real bean ("fève"), which is what it is still called - in their portion of the cake is King or Queen for the day and has to wear the crown around the home or office, supposedly. In the past it seems they would also have had to buy a round of drinks, but I don't know anyone who follows this practice.

The "fèves" used by one of the local supermarkets here are miniature ceramic figurines, or "santons" for a nativity scene or crib, and I've been buying at least one of their cakes every year for years, so now I have a small collection of these figurines. The only thing is, as you have no control over what you get, I have ended up with 4 shepherds (including a pair of identical twins), 2 rather ugly angels, 3 baby elephants - which I don't remember figuring in the Christmas story - and no kings at all, unless the figure I thought was Joseph is one of them! I do hope next year I finally get a KING in my cake...


At 7/1/06 03:04, Blogger Green said...

Interesting, I didn't know about this tradition.
Hope you will get "king" next year.

At 10/1/06 14:52, Blogger Dakota said...

Fun tradition :) Interesting collection of figurines although I have to say that they are kind of ugly too!

At 10/1/06 22:55, Blogger qaminante said...

I KNOW, especially the angels.. but I'm hooked on finding them in these cakes, all the same. After discussion with friends (and finding another "Mary"), we have decided that both the "Mary" and the "Joseph" shown here may be kings, so perhaps I do have 2 and didn't know it - but then why 3 elephants and no camel?! Very odd!


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