It's a vivid French tradition!
The French mark the 12th day after Christmas (the Epiphany), by eating a pastry fit for kings and queens.
Inside the Galette des Rois is hidden a charm known as a fève. Whoever finds it in their portion is a king or queen and wins the right to wear the crown and choose their partner.
This ritual is still taken seriously in France. Most families will celebrate and if you work here you won't be able to avoid it either!
It’s tradition of course.!
The pagan custom dates back to the Romans, when festivals were organized in honor of the gods during the winter solstice. Masters and slaves ate together and a bean was slipped into one of the breads and whoever got it was hailed king of the fest.
When the Catholic church instituted the Epiphany to celebrate the arrival of the 3 wise kings, the tradition remained. Today it has little to do with religion for most people. It is more about sharing a really good pastry and try to win the crown.
What is the Galette des Rois made of?
Well, it all depends where you are in France!
In Paris and Northern France you will find a frangipane tart made with pastry, butter and ground almonds. It was invented in the 14th century in Paris thanks to King Louis XIV and his mother.
But in Provence, Bordeaux and Toulouse it's a completely different story... the Galette des Rois is a brioche with candied fruits. It is close to its original form (a bread) and the tradition is very old.
In conclusion, whichever you choose, both pastries comes with a crown and you get to be King (or Queen) for the day if you are lucky!
What’s the point of the charm? .
There is a protocol that needs to be followed.
First of all the youngest person has to hide under the table. Then he or she tell whoever is cutting the pastry, who should get the next piece. The person who finds the charm names their king/queen, gets to wear the crown and theoretically can boss the rest of the family around all day!
I love those little charms and I keep them. Made of porcelain, some are really beautiful.
It's simple! Every bakery in France sell the Galette des Rois and you will find it until the end of January!
Creating precious, memorable moments is my business!
Photos credit: Sebastien Goudard - Ladurée