Today is Epiphany, the celebration of the Three Kings arriving at the stable in Bethlehem. For those counting, this is also where the twelve days of Christmas comes from because it was said to take about 12 days after Christmas for the kings to make their journey. And allow me a moment to share with you some thoughts from Canon Hendrick who gave our homily in church today. She reminded us that the message of Epiphany, at one time one of the three most important holidays in the Christian church (along with Easter and Pentecost), was that this faith was for ALL. As demonstrated by those that made the trip to Bethlehem…first shepherds, considered the lowliest of the low and finishing with three kings who were really believers in science and astrology (amazing that God gave them what they understood with regard to a star to follow) so they weren’t even followers of a religion, so to speak. This is God’s gift to everyone and it’s certainly not our place to decide who we think deserves it. Oh, she said it so much more eloquently than I ever could, but it was such a good message.
The highlight of Epiphany for many in France is the Galette de Rios or Cake of the Kings. You’ve heard of a King Cake which, in the United States and a variety of other countries, is more associated with the beginning of Lent, Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. In France, the Galette de Rios is eaten on January 6th, the day of the kings’ arrival. Unlike the King Cake we are familiar with that is more like a brioche with green, yellow and purple frosting, the galette is a puff pastry, usually filled, the traditional version filled with almond paste/frangipane. Inside the cake is a “bean”. The beans are really little figures; it used to be just a baby Jesus but now they come in a variety of forms. The Galette is cut into as many pieces as there are people to serve plus one which is supposed to go to the first beggar that comes knocking at the door. Whichever person gets the piece of galette with the bean is the King for the Day, or called the “taking of the kings” and gets to wear the crown that comes with your cake.
The last few days the boulangerie windows have been filled with galettes (check out Tom’s tweeted photo from our market on Saturday) labeled very specifically with how many people it should serve,the kind of cake (frangipane, chocolate, and apple being the most common that I saw) all with a paper crown on top.
So we had our cake this evening and guess who is King for the Day?! Too bad we didn’t have the galette for breakfast. I could have used more of the day to my advantage!
My favorite part of the day? Knowing we have a new tradition to take home with us. My least favorite part of the day? Epiphany is the day we always take down our tree. Tickets, bulbs and lights were removed and with a, “thanks, good ole tree”, we placed him gently by our curb. (We did sleep under the tree one final time last night.)
I’m wondering if the galettes will be 1/2 price tomorrow. Fingers crossed.