6th January – epiphany, the celebration of the 3 kings or the twelfth day of christmas –

IMG_2072Epiphany – the celebration of the three kings, also called the twelfth day of Christmas, when the wise men visited baby Jesus, is one of my favourite holidays for personal reasons shared with Nigella.  Here in Switzerland we celebrate  with a 3 kings cake, which is made of a sweet yeast dough containing raisins. The cake, which is more like a sweet bread (see link here), has buns which are arranged around a large central bun. One of the buns contains a statuette of a king which is baked inside. Whoever finds the king  is allowed to wear the crown and is king or queen for the day. With some stealth and visual examination of the underside of the buns you can often guess where the king is hidden (so I have been told, naturally I would never have tried to discern this myself). As children we used to claim this meant we are allowed to order everyone around all day.  The Swiss cake is great for breakfast with a coffee. The French also have a 3 kings cake and celebrate epiphany. The cake in French ’galette des rois’  is made of puff pastry dough encasing a franigipane paste, photograph above. The French also have a trinket inside and a crown to go with it (see link here for a simple recipe).  The French cake is richer and nice with an a glass of wine for an afternoon meeting. Not sure what kind of cake the Spanish eat but on the 6th January Spanish children open most of their Christmas presents which have been brought by the magi. And in Italy children put up socks on the 5th of January, the Eve of Epiphany, and they receive gifts from an old lady named Befana who puts the presents into the socks, similar to the more well known tradition of Christmas Eve and St. Claus.


2 thoughts on “6th January – epiphany, the celebration of the 3 kings or the twelfth day of christmas –

  1. Love this post! We lived in Spain for 12 years and always bought a “rocsoe de reyes” at the bakery with candied fruit and a whipped cream filling– shaped like a big ring. And even our small village had it’s own 3 kings parade, where floats children throw candy out to all the spectators. The big parade in Seville was spectacular with fireworks and the kings riding on real camels… And we’d give our 4 children a gift and fill their shoes, that they’d set out for the kings, with treats. Thanks for trudging up all those fun memories!

    • Wow Rhonda – thanks so much for telling me about how epiphany is celebrated in spain and about the cake, I will have to check that one out too! glad I could bring up some good memories and thanks for sharing them with us!

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