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Breakfast at Epiphanies

Natal, Brazil. Three Wise Men Monument.
Image via Wikipedia

Tomorrow is the big one for millions of children and of course, their parents: Three Kings Day, Epiphany, Twelfth Night (or what you will), Little Christmas. It can only mean two things – presents and cake. It’s also the first day of the New Orleans Carnival Season, for anyone who needs another excuse.

Epiphany (from Koine Greek ἐπιφάνεια “appearance”, “manifestation”)

The Western Christian Church traditionally celebrates the visit of the Three Wise Men (Magi) or Kings to Bethlehem, whereas the Eastern Christian Church celebrates Jesus‘s Baptism in the Jordan as his manifestation to the world. This is often also called the Theophany.

The tradition of the Twelve Days of Christmas (as told in the  Christmas carol or song) is believed to have started in the fourth century, when the Western Christian Church aadopted the 25th of December as the day of Jesus’s birth, linking this date with the 6th of January as the start and finish of the Christmas season. In fact, it is still traditional in many countries to remove the Christmas tree and decorations on the 6th of January.

So to the food! As the Three Kings make their way through most Spanish cities tonight, they will be throwing out sweets to the crowds, but this is just the beginning. Working on a similar principle to Mr. Claus – “he knows if you’ve been naughty or nice” – the Kings will deliver the presents they have been asked for to the “good kids” and the “bad kids” will get (candy) coal. But this won’t happen to you, of course, we know that 😉

roscón de reyes (king cake)

Image by juanelos via Flickr

The biggest sweet tradition in Spain and many Latin American countries is the Roscón or round, sweet cake, normally containing a special figure (originally a Jesus doll), as well as a bean. The person who finds the figure is King For The Day, while the one who gets the bean has to pay for the cake.

As we mentioned at the beginning, tomorrow is also the start of the Carnival season in New Orleans, which ends on “Fat Tuesday” – Mardi Gras – the day before the beginning of Lent in the Christian calendar. And surprise, surprise, they also have a traditional Kings Cake, as you can see at this rather delicious-looking website, KingCakes.com.

Have fun, be good and here are a few links to find out more:

Epiphany Traditions (Wikipedia)

More Twelfth Night traditions (Chiff)

Recipes for Three Kings Cake (Beliefnet)

Mardi Gras (Nola.com)

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Strange Random New Year Quote:

Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account – Oscar Wilde

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