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The Tradition of Mardi Gras King Cakes

Sunday was my mother's birthday. Hubby cooked a huge meal and invited her and my father down to eat and watch superbowl. She showed up with her own birthday cake! lol She bought a King Cake for herself. I had never heard of King Cake and did not know any history about it. Here's what I learned.

The King Cake is believed to have originated in France around the 12th century. These early Europeans celebrated the coming of the three wise men bearing gifts twelve days after Christmas calling it the Feast of the epiphany, Twelfth Night, or King's Day.

The main part of the celebration was the baking of a King’s Cake to honor the three Kings. The cakes were made circular to portray the circular route used by the kings to get to the Christ Child, which was taken to confuse King Herod who was trying to follow the wise men so he could kill the Christ Child. In these early King Cakes a bean, pea, or coin was hidden inside the cake. The person who got the hidden piece was declared King for the day or was said to have good luck in the coming year.

In Louisiana, Twelfth Night also signifies the beginning of the carnival season which ends with Mardi Gras Day. The bean, pea and the coin have been replaced by a small plastic baby to symbolize the Christ Child. The person who gets the baby is expected to carry on the carnival festivities by hosting the next King Cake party.

King Cakes are decorated in the traditional Mardi Gras colors; gold (for power), green (for faith) and purple (for justice).


  1. I just saw this on the Food Network. You know that Guy on the road show or something. I had never heard of King Cakes before!

  2. I adore King Cake! I grew up in a suburb of New Orleans, so we had King Cake at school most Fridays. We just had to learn a little Mardi Gras history to make it educational.

    Mardi Gras snuck up on me this year, and I didn't get a chance to bake a king cake. You can buy some really great ones in Louisiana, but not so much here in TX. Oh well.

    I'm glad you enjoyed it!