Happy Mardi Gras!

Today is the official day for Mardi Gras.  Boy, do I sure wish we were in New Orleans.  (I just want to experience it once).  We have a good friend who sent us an overnight package in celebration of the day.  I thought it was going to be a bunch of beads (until I noticed the sticker that read “cake inside”), Of course that REALLY grabbed my attention.  Upon opening we found a HUGE cake.  A King Cake.  The King Cake is a brioche-style cake traditionally made throughout the State of  Louisiana during the weeks prior to Mardi Gras. Usually oval in shape, the King  Cake is a bakery delicacy made from a rich Danish dough (which is a sweetened  yeast bread…a cross between a coffee cake and a French pastry) and covered  with a poured sugar topping decorated in the traditional Mardi Gras-colored  sugars of purple (symbolizing Justice), green (symbolizing Faith) and gold  (symbolizing Power). This colorful topping is representative of a jeweled crown  in honor of the Three Wise Men who  visited the Christ Child on Epiphany (a word derived from the Greek meaning “to  show”). Epiphany, also known as Twelfth Night (i.e., January 6) is when  the Carnival Season officially begins.

 The King Cake tradition is believed to have begun with French settlers around  1870, who were themselves continuing a custom which dated back to Twelfth  Century France, when a similar cake was used to celebrate the coming of the Magi  twelve days after Christmas bearing gifts for the Christ Child. This celebration  was also once known as King’s Day. As a symbol of this Holy Day, a tiny plastic  baby (symbolic of the baby Jesus) is placed inside each King Cake but in times  gone past, the hidden items were usually coins, beans, pecans or peas.

  Today, the cakes are baked in many shapes but originally, they were round to  portray the circular route take by the Magi in order to confuse King Herod,  whose army was attempting to follow the Wise Men so that the Christ Child could  be killed. The origin of the modern King Cake can be traced back to the Middle  Ages, when popular devotion during Christmas turned to the Three Wise Men. In  1871, the tradition of choosing the Queen of Mardi Gras was determined by who  drew the prize within the cake. Today, such a find is still deemed to be a sign  of good luck and it customary for the person who discovers the hidden plastic  baby to host the next King Cake Party.

I guess that means I’m hosting a King Cake Party next year. (I found the baby)

Thanks to our good friend, for such a delicious introduction to Mardi Gras.

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