Tuesday, March 21, 2023

‘Fat Tuesday’ and the Tradition of Indulgent King Cakes

What is Fat Tuesday, February 21st? It was a day of celebration before the beginning of Lent the next day – a goodbye to decadent eating before the 40 days of quiet reflection and doing without sweet indulgence.

It is customary for people to give up something for Lent; often vices, sweets, alcohol, foul language and smoking, just to name a few. Fasting is often a part of this tradition. Greek Orthodox followers have said they give up meat for the entire period of Lent.

Many Catholic churches hold a pancake supper on Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Attendees enjoy the sweet dinner and the company of friends. The day is sometimes known as Pancake Tuesday.

Special cakes made for the day are called King Cakes or Three King Cakes. They are named after the three wise men said to have brought presents to baby Jesus.

The cakes are sweet and colorful, with a plastic baby or golden ring hidden inside. Whoever finds the baby is considered king for the day.

Some bakeries in New Jersey make these special treats.

You can make your own, as seen in this original recipe from “All Year Round” book of traditions. This book is a treasure with traditions from all around the globe.

A pea was baked into the cake. Whoever found it became “King for the Day.” They would wear the gold crown and in good spirits be allowed to reign for the day. Photo by MB Journe, 2/2023

The King Cake may seem like an American tradition, but its roots can actually be traced back to France, according to Adley Cormier, a historian in Lake Charles, Louisiana. When French settlers came to what is now Louisiana, they brought over their festive traditions, such as Carnival, which became Mardi Gras and the tradition of King Cakes.

For more info see the “Reader’s Digest” attached story,
https://www.rd.com/article/what-is-king-cake/.

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