King Cake Tradition
Mardi Gras and King Cake season officially begins on January 6th on the religious holiday known as the Epiphany, or Twelfth Night, which comes 12 nights after Christmas. The season lasts through Mardi Gras day, also known as Fat Tuesday. While New Orleans Mardi Gras is always the day before Ash Wednesday and is always 46 days before Easter, the actual date changes from year to year depending on the date of the Easter celebration. Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the northern hemisphere's vernal equinox.
King Cakes are believed to have originated in France in the 12th Century and been brought to New Orleans around 1870. Today, King Cakes are the culinary centerpiece of every Mardi Gras party. A New Orleans version of cinnamon coffee cake, King Cakes are decorated with sweet colored toppings of Gold for power, Purple for justice, and Green for faith.
The oval-shaped cakes are usually cut into slices ranging from 1-2 inches. Hidden somewhere inside the cake is a small plastic baby. According to tradition, whoever gets the slice containing the baby is named King for the Day, and is given the responsibility of hosting the next King Cake party.
In addition to being served as a traditional after-meal dessert, King Cakes have become the centerpiece for football parties, office parties, school parties and family gatherings in Louisiana. Sometimes, just having a King Cake on hand is reason enough for a celebration. Nowadays, people eat King Cakes year-round, sometimes decorating them in colors appropriate to the nearest holiday, such as Christmas, 4th of July and Thanksgiving.
Sending a Mardi Gras King Cake is a great way to send a friend, loved one, or yourself, a Taste of New Orleans, Mardi Gras style. As we say, “A King Cake day is always a good day.” Send one today!