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The Birth of The King Cake

While traveling last week, I discovered a new appreciation for the season of Mardi Gras, specifically king cakes. Having an epiphany birthday, I have always felt it was super special being born on the day the three wise men arrived to baby Jesus with their three gifts.  Growing up, we always left our decorations up until the day after Epiphany to appropriately celebrate the birth of Jesus and the season that surrounded us.  It wasn't until purchasing and eating a king cake in Fairhope that I understood the history and tradition of this delicious and super unique cake. 

The name king cake comes from the story of Epiphany.  A blend of coffee cake and cinnamon roll is traditionally a simple ring of braided dough with a small amount of decoration.  After baking, it is usually coated in delicious sugar in the traditional purple, green, and gold colors.  Just as Christmas is ending, the season of Mardi Gras is beginning.  It can be filled with cream cheese, cream, fruit, or plain.  The colors of sugar that top the cake are always the colors of Mardi Gras; purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for prosperity and wealth. These colors resemble a crown of many jewels that honor the wise men and their visit to the Christ Child. 

Previously, you could expect to find coins, nuts, or fruits hidden inside the cake to serve as prizes for the eater. Today, it is traditionally a plastic baby, and the lucky hunter is deemed King for the day. By Mardi Gras tradition, they are expected to host the next gathering and provide the next king cake. 

While doing some research, I learned so much about epiphany, making it feel even more special to me.  Epiphany occurs each year on January 6th, exactly 12 days after Christmas, and hence is the 12th day of Christmas.  The word epiphany comes from a Greek verb that means "to show."  On that first epiphany, Jesus showed himself to the three wise men and eventually to us all. 

While traveling, I learned so much about Mardi Gras and the particular season.  It occurs on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, and 46 days before Easter.  That season is known as Lent, and many people dedicate this season to a time of prayer, fasting, and sacrifice. I am working with a dear friend to share a deep dive into Mardi Gras.  I have learned so much, and after learning, I wasn't the only one who was deficient in my knowledge; I decided to share my new knowledge and way more. 

So, stay tuned. Until then, most bakeries will have a king cake you can purchase, and if you want one from a local bakery in Mobile or New Orleans, I will search online for a good one. If you would like to bake your own, I found this recipe from my dear friend Caroline of Sweet Caroline Designs.  She says it makes two, one for you and one to share.  They are best enjoyed fresh. 

Ps.  Don't you wish that baby was part of the deal. The cutest Margot ever!!

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