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6 January - Epiphany celebrations

6 January - Epiphany celebrations

01 Jan 2013 BY Dominique's Villas

French celebrations of Epiphany, which usually take place on the Sunday after the 6th January, keep the bakers busy. In France this feast day is literally that, because special cakes are produced in large numbers to commemorate it.

In the north they take the form of fine, flaky pastry, filled with a delicious almond cream paste known as frangipane. The southern version is invariably filled with a fruit paste, and some are shaped like a donut, a galette crowned with fruited jewels. These represent the jewels on a king’s crown, the kings being the Magi or three wise men who came to find Jesus: Melchior, Gaspard and Balthazar.

The Western Roman Catholic Church began celebrating the Epiphany in the fourth century and originally contained a fève or bean hidden within the brioche, symbolic of the seed that grows upon fertile ground and guarantees a fruitful harvest in the year to come. Over the years the fève was replaced by a tiny ceramic figurine. Whoever finds the fève is declared king or queen according to their sex and is allowed to wear the golden paper crown that comes with each galette.