This morning my boss sent out an e-mail, inviting us to partake of the King Cake he had in his office. The e-mail reminded me that it’s Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) today and that I had no idea what a King Cake is.
Turns out the King Cake tradition (which started about 300 years ago in France) honors the Kings who came to worship the infant Jesus. The three colors often sprinkled on modern King Cakes represent justice (purple), faith, (green), and power (gold).
Properly done, a group will come together each week between Christmas and the Tuesday before the beginning of Ash Wednesday to partake of this reminder of Christ’s birth. The cake usually contains a favor (originally a bean, la fève) within, and whoever gets the piece of cake with the favor bakes the cake for the next week. Since many folks purchase King Cake for Mardi Gras, the favor in modern cakes is usually a tiny plastic baby on top of the cake, since there is no need to determine who gets the privilege/task of baking the cake for the upcoming week.
While some Mardi Gras traditions are not consistent with the commandments, the King Cake tradition can be a way to brighten the cold, dark days between Christmas and spring. I know my family will welcome a Christ-focused food tradition to weeks that have previously been void of any “fun.”