The Galette des Rois or the King’s Cake is traditionally eaten on the 6th January each year to celebrate the Kings visiting baby Jesus.
The Galette des Rois comes from the Roman tradition where the Romans would choose a slave to be King for the day. The cake was baked with a lucky charm inside. During the banquet, the cake would be divided into the number of people present and the person receiving the lucky charm would be the king. The slave who was chosen to be King for the day would be allowed to give orders to his master and others but at the end of the day, he would return to servant life. To ensure the fair distribution of the parts, the youngest person would sit under the table and name the person who should receive each slice.
The tradition has continued until today and still remains a popular tradition in France. The cake is cut into the number of people present plus one. The tradition is that the extra slice was given to the first poor passer-by. As in Roman times, the youngest person is supposed to sit under the table and say who gets which slice to ensure the fair distribution of the slices of cake. Originally the lucky charm was a bean, nowadays it is a porcelain or a plastic trinket. The person who receives the slice of cake with the lucky charm in becomes the ‘king’ or ‘queen’ and boulangeries sell the cake with a golden cardboard crown for the king/queen to wear.
The important tradition remains the sharing of a moment and eating something tasty with friends and family. The traditional Kings Cake is made of puff pastry and a frangipane centre. Other variants now exist in other areas of France.
Above is an image of Alpine French School’s ‘Galette des Rois’ after our French Intensive Course of New Year week 2019!
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