Epiphany, a story of Kings and sun


Barely time to recover from the end-of-year feasts when the "galette des rois" (epiphany French cake) arrives! Here is its story and some ideas to accompany it for dessert and snack.

Epiphany is a Christian holiday celebrated 12 days after Christmas, on January 6. In France, given that it often falls on a weekday, it is traditionally celebrated on the Sunday following January 6, around the famous galette des rois, just like in Ireland where it is also called "Little Christmas" or even "Nollaig na mBan" ("Women's Christmas" in Gaelic). On this day, the tradition was for women to leave the house, entrusting the children and household chores to their husbands, to go out and meet one another. Although times have since changed, Irish women are still honoured on the evening of January 6th. Finally, in Ireland, it is also customary on this day to remove all Christmas decorations, on pain of being struck with bad luck the rest of the year.

In France, if the Epiphany is associated with Christian beliefs (and in particular with the visit of the Magi to the Child Jesus), its origins, as for Candlemas, are both religious and pagan. Indeed, it was well before the arrival of the Three Kings that the tradition began to be perpetuated in France: from Antiquity, the Romans celebrated the god Saturn during the "Saturnalia", a time of year synonymous with rebirth and back to light after the winter solstice. During this festival, a "Prince of the Saturnalia" was designed and could claim from his master, his family or his garrison, anything he wanted for a day. The famous "fève" (a sort of lucky charm), often represented by a bean, was slipped into a round, golden cake to remind the sun which was about to make its return to the calendar.

Galette des rois - epiphany cake

Gradually, this feast coincided with the Christian Epiphany, which celebrates the arrival in the world of the Messiah as well as the Three Kings who came to visit him and bring him presents. These two traditions merged to form the Epiphany that we know today, a mixture of Christian traditions (with the Epiphany mass) and pagan traditions (with the tasting of the galette and the search for the "fève").

But if there is one thing that unites believers and non-believers, it is this: the "galette des rois"! With apple, frangipane, or even chocolate, it can be eaten throughout the month of January to make the pleasure last, for a snack or for dessert! Because of its flaky consistency, it is delicious accompanied by a nice cup of tea or hot chocolate sprinkled with mini-marshmallows... If you're not a fan of the galette, the "brioche des rois" will be a great substitute! To be garnished generously with jam, marmalade, honey or other spread... After all, good resolutions can wait until February, right?

Hot chocolate

Article written by Camille L.

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