Saturday, December 29, 2007

Twelfth Night Cakes & Crowns

Now Christmas is past, Twelfth Night is the last
To the Old Year adieu, Great joy to the new !

Feast of Epiphany, the Magi, the Three Kings,
Little Christmas, ancient rituals tied to the winter solstice,
whatever one chooses to call it, the "Twelfth Night"
is approaching January 6.

A wonderful ancient custom of fun and frolic,
where the norm in social order turns topsy-turvy.
A kingdom where Bean Kings and Pea Queens rule.
Good Luck is bestowed on all.

What began as a pagan tradition, the "Twelfth
Night" was a celebration of the Winter Solstice.
While "Twelfth Night" customs spread throughout
Europe there were many variations, but one element
that remained the same was the choosing of a King
or Queen by means of good fortune. The most prevalent
being the eating of cake and the lucky one who
found the bean would be King for a night.

The most famous King Cake is the French
version "Galette des Rois" a french pastry filled
with frangipane (made from almond paste, butter,
eggs, and sugar). Inside the cake is a feve (bean).
Most feves today are porcelain trinkets, most
collectible by French children.

The youngest child present, distributes the slices
and one slice is always put aside ( le part a Dieu)
for the unexpected visitor.

Now for La Fête

So, by the Good Fortune bestowed upon me, I do hereby
declare myself QUEEN of my Kingdom and all
company being assembled here bearing witness.
Resting upon my Throne and having the the ability
to appoint court and enact arbitrary laws, I also
crown anyone reading this doctrine to be Queens
& Kings!
The policy of this reign shall be:

#1 to Eat Cake

#2 For all latent talents to be unmasked
For those who have never danced, to be of
fantastic toe.
For those who have never sung, to hum
sweet melodies.
For those who have never loved, to love rouge.
For those who have never eaten cake,

#3 Cadeaus pour tout
May you possess all the Gold, Frankinscence &
Myrrh you desire
May your wine always be dispersed with a
liberal hand
and French Hens rest on your table
May you have Lots of Cake

#4 Eat More Cake

The crown pictured above was made by
the Queen at
Cakes are from Almost too
luscious to eat.
By order of the Queen I do hereby wish you
a most merry "Twelfth Night".

Now, now the mirth comes
With the cake full of plums,
Where Bean’s the King of the sport here;
Beside we must know
The Pea also
Must revel, as Queen, in the Court here.
Begin then to choose,
(This night as ye use)
Who shall for the present delight here.
Be a King by the lot
And who shall not
Be Twelfth-day Queen for the night here.
Which known, let us make
Joy-sops with the cake;
And let not a man then be seen here,
Who unurg’d will not drink
To the base from the brink
A health to the King and the Queen here.
Next crown the bowl full
With gentle lambs-wool;
Add sugar, nutmeg and ginger,
With store of ale too;
And thus ye must do
To make the wassail a swinger.
Give then to the King
And Queen wassailing;
And though with ale ye be wet here;
Yet part ye from hence,
As free from offence
As when ye innocent met here.
- Robert Herrick

PS For those of you who live in Louisville,
Mirabelle Gourmet Catering is offering
"Galettes les Rois" with ceramic feves imported
from France.
Quantities are limited, so place your order now.
And since we are on the subject of Queens.
#4 on my French Fashion List for Antiques
happens to be Crowns!
Bonne Annee


Cote de Texas said...

Wonderful post, as ALWAYS!

fabulous fifi said...

This was a GORGEOUS post. Love the story about la Galette des Rois. it reminded me of my childhood and made me feel sweetly nostalgic.
Long Live Queen Shawn!

Britt-Arnhild said...

What a great post and great blog. I have bookmarked it.

I learned about this cake with a small figurine from a French friend. I have adapted it to a carneval tradition in our Norwegian home, and even write about it in my newly published book about Lent :-)

Lisa & Alfie Wilson said...

Bonne Annee Shawn! Alfie and I bow to the queen and her blog, one to be admired and imitated often. Alfie sends his love back to Zoe!

Holiday Queen said...

Thank you for sharing a little piece of history of a wonderful tradition. A delightful blog.
Bonne Fete!