How a King Cake Became Part of Mardi Gras Tradition
January 6th officially kicks off the Mardi Gras season. Just when everyone is trying to start a new diet for the new year, it’s King Cake time. Did you ever wonder how a King Cake became part of Mardi Gras tradition? It all starts with the date January 6th, which is also known to Christians as the Epiphany or the “Twelfth Night”, when Jesus first showed himself to the three Wisemen. The King Cake is said to originate in France in 1870. It’s a cake with sweet dough that is twisted into an oval shape and it’s a cross between a coffee cake and a pastry. They are decorated in purple, green, and gold. These colors were chosen to stand for a jeweled crown that honors the Wise Men. Purple signifies “Justice”, green signifies “Faith”, and gold is for “Power”. It is a long tradition for the King Cakes to come with a trinket, such as a coin. But, back in the 1950’s New Orleans modernized the tradition with a small plastic baby. The plastic tiny baby is placed inside most King Cakes as a symbol of Jesus and the Epiphany. Tradition is that the one who finds the baby in their slice of cake gets to be the “king” for the day and must host the next party along with providing the next King Cake. Today, the baby comes along with the cake and the purchaser can hide it inside the cake, due to concerns about someone accidentally eating the baby.