Mardi Gras and King Cake go hand in hand here in Louisiana, but if you’re not familiar, you might be asking yourself, what is King Cake? Just a few days ago I posted a photo of a King Cake I had just bought at the store on Instagram. One of my New Jersey cousins asked, “What’s a King Cake?” After thinking about what exactly King Cake is, I decided, why not blog about it? If my cousin didn’t know what it was maybe others didn’t know either.
Since moving to Louisiana nearly 7 years ago I’ve come to realize two things: Louisianans come up with any excuse to throw a party and two, this place is chock-full of traditions. One of those being the King Cake.
According to the Christian calendar, the 12th day after Christmas is celebrated as the date that the three kings visited the baby Jesus. This day, January 6th, is known by several names, including “Epiphany”, “Twelfth Night”, or “Kings Day”. The celebration of this event has evolved over the centuries, with each culture adding its own unique rituals. The New Orleans tradition, influenced heavily from Europe, is believed to have begun in the 1870’s. As part of this celebration it is now traditional to bake a cake in honor of the three kings, the King Cake.
The King Cake became associated with Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday) in the 19th century and is still enjoyed by families throughout southern Louisiana and other nearby areas.
Most King Cakes are made of cinnamon filled dough, usually braided or twisted into a hollow ring and topped with icing and sprinkled with colored sugar. King Cakes are decorated with traditional Mardi Gras colors: purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power.
“There Is A Baby Baked Inside?”
A tiny, usually plastic baby is baked into the King Cake. The little baby is said to represent Baby Jesus. The person served the piece of cake with the baby in it is supposed to bring the cake for the next party or better yet, host the next King Cake party. King Cake parties are traditionally held on Sundays. A party is thrown weekly till Fat Tuesday, better known as Mardi Gras. King Cake is served throughout Carnival season which lasts from Epiphany Eve (Jan. 6th) to Fat Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday).