The History of King Cakes

King Cake

Today in New Orleans, the King Cake is an oval-shaped braided cake similar to a coffee cake which has cinnamon within the braids and is decorated with icing and sugar the colors of gold (God’s power), green (faith in Christ), and purple (Justice of God) – and contains a tiny plastic baby symbolic of the Baby Jesus usually baked within but sometimes placed within the cake after it has been baked.

Religious tradition is bound to the King Cake. Thus, it is not surprising that the origin of the modern King Cake can be traced back to the Middle Ages, when popular devotion during Christmas not only centered on Jesus Christ, but, also included an interest in the “Three Wise Men,” or “kings,” who had followed a star leading them to pay homage to the Christ Child. The “Epiphany,” a Christian festival held on January 6th honors the “Three Wise Men” for having sought the worlds’ Savior. It is also referred to as “Twelfth Night” since it arrives 12 days after Christmas. As such, the English definition of the term “epiphany” is “a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way.” The “Three Wise Men” are considered “wise” because they sought the Savior!

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