This weekend we enjoyed another French tradition: the galette des rois! The galette des rois is normally celebrated on the 6th of January. It’s the same day as Epiphany Day, or the day the 3 kings arrived in Bethlehem, and of course here in France we celebrate with a cake!
Translated to the king’s cake, it’s a delicious cake in a flaky puff pastry. The pastry top is baked with intricate designs on the top. The filling is traditionally almond frangipane filling, but it’s also popular to have apple filling.
With the delicious galette there’s also a game! You cut the cake into the exact number of slices as there are people in the room. If you have a big cake and only 3 people…well, I hope you’re hungry! Then the youngest person in the room has to sit under the table.
That’s funny, but what’s the point?
Well, inside the cake there’s a little charm, or a fève, baked into the filling. The lucky winner is the one who gets the slice of cake with the charm inside! The person under the table decides who gets which slice, but the idea is that they can’t see which slice is going to which person.
They are named the king or queen of the day. The cakes are sold with a little crown, and of course the winner gets to wear the crown for the rest of the party. Some people say that the winner has to buy the galette for next year.
And of course they get to keep the fève! The prizes themselves, the fève, are normally little porcelain figurines. They come in all different shapes and characters. I’ve seen religious ones, ones based on cartoon characters, and ones based on random objects and animals. This weekend we enjoyed a galette with friends, and the prize was this small chicken banana thing.
There are several different variations of this tradition, depending on the region of France. For example, in some areas you would cut the cake for the number of guests you have, plus one. This extra slice would be given to the first poor visitor who passed by. In some older stories, the fève might actually be a bean! Whatever parts of this tradition you choose to celebrate, it’s certainly a fun reason to celebrate!
If you feel like baking a galette des rois, here’s a delicious recipe from the BBC.
Have you ever tried a galette des rois? Do you do something different to celebrate Epiphany Day? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!