What is the origin of Galette des Rois?
Galette des Rois, which is not separated from Epiphany, comes to all French tables in early January. But you know Where does the Galette des Rois tradition come from? Why do we draw kings? So how did porcelain fevers develop? Take a look at the history of this custom!
What is Epiphany? The meaning of the Christian holiday
It is celebrated on January 6 by Catholics and on January 19 by Orthodox. Epiphany marks the arrival of the Three Kings in Bethlehemwho came to celebrate the birth of Christ.
According to the Gospel of Matthew, Gaspard, Melchior and Balthazar would follow a star to guide the child Jesus and bring him richly meaningful gifts: gold to awaken Jesus’ kingdom; frankincense for his divinity, myrrh for his humanity. A way of saying that Jesus is king, God, and mortal at the same time.
Where does the tradition of galette des rois come from?
There are no pancakes or beans in this story of the Three Kings! This tradition has nothing to do with Christianity, but rather comes from Roman timesFestivals celebrating Saturn, the god of time and the sun, in homage to Saturnalia.
On the occasion of these holidays, food was served between masters and slaves. Then fève (beans) were placed inside the cake, whose round, golden appearance symbolizes the sun. Whoever landed on the bean became the “Prince of Saturnalia” and one day he could get what he wanted, one day he became king.
Beans were one of the symbols of the winter solstice because it is the first vegetable to ripen in spring. Moreover, the bean sprouts and gives life, which made it a very important vegetable among the Greeks and Romans.
The origin of porcelain fever
The custom of electing the King is also confirmed from the 14th century, the King then had to pay a round at the table, we then talked about “royal drinks”. But some stingy kings who wanted to avoid paying for the general tour swallowed the beans. To avoid any deception, we replaced it with a small piece of porcelain.
Porcelain came from Saxony in 1875, followed by those from the Limoges workshops in 1913. Originally, these beans represented dolls or babies in swaddling clothes, symbols of fertility. Later, animals and lucky symbols (horseshoe, clover, etc.) appeared. As for advertising beans, they date back to the early 20th century, when they were attributed to a certain Mr. Ace who created a moon-shaped bean with the name of his business written on it. Finally, in 1960, plastic beans appeared, cheaper, they became more and more common, especially in industrial cakes.
ALSO READ: History of Sevres porcelain
Did you know? Galette des Rois de l’Elysée has no bean or crown!
Obviously, electing a king during the revolution was unthinkable. It was later replaced by galette de la Liberté, called galette de l’Égalité, without the beans and king. A tradition cultivated to this day at the Elysée Palace under the leadership of Valery Giscard d’Estaing: if you share the presidential waistcoat, you will find neither a beanie nor a crown!
Origin of frangipani
With apples, pears and even chocolate… there are many galette des rois! But the most popular version these days is, of course, frangipane.
Its origin is debated, with several hypotheses, but it is thought to come from Count Cesare Frangipani, who offered the recipe for this cream as a wedding gift to Catherine de Medici, who was about to marry Henry II.
How do you prefer galette des rois? If you eat it this year, be especially careful not to break your teeth on the beans. Enjoy your lunch!