Today is January 6th, also known as Epiphany or the Christian feast day recognizing the three wise men who visited baby Jesus in Bethlehem. It is also the official beginning of Mardi Gras the season of Carnival or the Twelfth Night.
One tradition for this holiday in Germany is preparing a Dreikönigskuchen or “Three Kings Cake” which was also brought to New Orleans with the French, and simply called the “King’s Cake”. Both are a yeast rising sweetbread dough. The Three Kings’ Cakes of Germany are arranged balls of dough into a flower cluster of smaller rolls, whereas the King’s Cake of Mardi Gras is made into an oval shaped loaf and decorated with traditional purple, green, and yellow colors.
There is always one large bean, an almond, or in New Orleans a small toy, hidden in the cake for one lucky person to discover – they then become the honorary “King” for a day!
In Germany it is also a tradition for children to go singing door to door dressed as the three wise men singing songs about the star of bethlehem. After receiving treats and praise, the initials of the wise men and the year are written in chalk on the door frame to bless the household in the new year.
Since I didn’t have the ingredients necessary to make a traditional King’s Cake, I decided to make a Pumpkin Spice cake and Cream Cheese icing in honor of the day. (Stop by tomorrow if you’d like the recipe. And trust me… you do!)
Do you celebrate the beginning of Carnival, Mardi Gras, or the season of Epiphany?
What winter holidays do you celebrate with your family?