Wednesday, 7 January 2015

finding the bean

Kings' Day. Twelfth Night. Epiphany.

There are a few names for this date, the 6th of January. And also a few possibilities for what it is commemorating. The most popular choice is that it is the day when the church celebrates the arrival of the kings who came to present gifts to the baby Jesus. Many countries have traditions surrounding this date and they are largely a fairly happy mix of pagan and religious observations.

In France, a bean, or in recent centuries, a ceramic figure, is hidden inside the King's cake. Whoever receives the special portion, gets to wear the crown. It is an interesting tradition to continue, given the nasty end of France's last King. And, in fact, the cake baked for the President of France is bean-less. I suspect they don't want anyone getting any ideas.

The 6th of January marks the start of Carnival, the period of time that runs on down to Ash Wednesday and Lent.

So it's win, win really. Even if you don't get the bean, there's still a party.

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