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France celebrates Epiphany every year on the second Sunday after Christmas, nearest to January 6th, with a "galette des Rois", a traditional puff pastry cake filled with frangipane, a thick almond cream. The Provencal version is a crown-shaped brioche decorated with candied fruit and castor sugar.
In fact, after celebrating Christmas with the family, New Year with friends, this "galette des rois" is the occasion to invite the neighbours and not so close friends, to show in the New Year, and thus keep good relations, with at least one little celebration that can really take place all through January.
The tradition traces its roots back to the Middle Ages. The last piece of the cake, often called "the piece of the poor" was reserved and given to the first needy person knocking at the door.
Similar customs date back to the Roman winter feast "Saturnalia", a time when the servants would trade places with their masters. One explanation has it that the tradition celebrates giving - after all, Epiphany marks the visit of the 3 Kings - which can elevate anyone from pauper to king.
To come back to the "galette", there is always a little surprise hidden inside. In the old days, it was a dried fava bean, a "fève", symbol of birth or renewal. Today, it is replaced by a porcelain figurine, still called "fève" though. The person who gets the "fève" is the "king" and thus crowned; he then chooses his queen or vice-versa, and of course takes his "fève" home with him or her, and adds it to his or her collection. I have decorated my "galette" with a few of the "fèves" gathered along the years.
Please tell us about your celebrating of Epiphany in your region or your country!

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Additional Photos by MarieLouise Davies (maloutim) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2267 W: 353 N: 4067] (13615)
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