The Galette des Rois
The Galette des Rois is a French culinary tradition that takes place every year during the period of Epiphany celebrated on January 6th or on the first Sunday following the new year’s day (since 1962, Vatican II council). This holiday marks the end of the Christmas period and celebrates the birth of Jesus. Throughout France, people gather with their families or friends to enjoy this delicious pastry in honor of the holiday, but what is its origin?
The origin of the galette des rois dates back to Ancient Rome, where the festival of Saturnalias was celebrated in honor of the god Saturn. During this period, slaves were freed and a “king of the festival” was chosen by lottery to rule over the festival for one day. This tradition has been maintained over the centuries and has evolved through different cultures.
In France, the tradition of the Galette des Rois was introduced in the Middle Ages by the Benedictine monks, who celebrated the holiday of Epiphany in honor of the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus. They prepared a special pastry called the “cake of kings” or “Galette des Rois” for the occasion. This pastry was traditionally made of puff pastry and filled with frangipane (click here for the recipe), an almond powder cream.
Over the centuries, the Galette des Rois has evolved and many variations have emerged. Today, there are different types of galettes, such as the Galette des Rois with apples, nuts, spices, or candied fruit. You can also find the Brioche des Rois, a soft and sweet version of the traditional galette.