I had never heard about King Day. A writer friend, Keila Dawson, published this book 2 years ago. I read it and thought it was just a funny story. Thanks to Keila, this year I put king cake together with the holiday. It’s the reason for the season, for cake and for babies.
If you’re like me, read on and discover King Day. If you’re hungry, make one for yourself. And if you’re adventurous, take a trip down to New Orleans and meet one of its best traditions…King Cake!
Can you guess what King Day is about now? Google pulled up Martin Luther King, but that’s wrong.
King Day is about the 3 kings, the 3 wise men. Yesterday in church I finally put it all together. I knew King Day was January 6th. So is Epiphany. Our church sermon said it’s always January 6th, this year, next year, and in 2040. Epiphany and King Day are always January 6th. They’re the same holiday.
Here’s a link for more information:
I always think of the 3 kings arriving with the shepherds at about the time Baby Jesus was born. That was the Nativity scene I grew up with.
Now I’m wondering. Maybe the shepherds stuck around for the kings, maybe not. I know from my research and from sitting in church, that the kings followed the star from their own countries. They went to see King Herod. He asked them to find out about the new baby king and to report back. Then the kings continued on, following the star till they came to Bethlehem, to Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. It would have taken a while to get there since they traveled by camel. It doesn’t matter if the shepherds were there. What’s important is that the kings gave him kingly gifts—gold, frankincense, myrrh.
We all know gold is perfect for a king. Frankincense and myrrh I’d never thought about. I googled them for you! Frankincense is a gum or resin. It’s used in making perfume and incense. People wear perfume and it smells good, but incense also burns. Back in Old Testament times, frankincense was part of the sacrifices burned for God, for Yahweh. That made it a perfect gift for baby Jesus, part God, part man.
Myrrh is a gum resin. It was used for making perfume, incense, medicine, and for annoiting the dead. Back in Old Testament times, myrrh was a popular perfume, perfect for a king. After crucifixion, Jesus’ body was annointed with myrrh. Symbolically it points towards Jesus’ death.
Check out these links to see Frankincense and myrrh, and to learn more about them.
This is King Cake! I can tell because it’s yellow, purple, and green. Those are Mardi Gras colors. It looks like someone already found the baby in the center. Do you see him?
You can make your own King Cake. Google a recipe, or try this one from Keila Dawson. It’s easy enough that a preschooler can make it with you, easy enough that a classroom could make one too. Keila once made 50 cakes with her son’s class. They sent them off to some wounded warriers in Germany. I bet they loved them!
This is Keila’s king baby, but this isn’t King Day, and there’s no King Cake. Keila’s baby travels everywhere with her, to places like tennis tournaments and restaurants. Lucky baby! Keila gave me permission to share these pictures. I wonder where they’ll go next. I hope it’s New Orleans!
Do you remember the King Cake colors, purple, green, and gold? They’re the colors of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. They come out for King Day and hang around till Fat Tuesday. This year that’s March 5th, but it changes every year. King Day is always January 6th.
Here’s a link if you’d like to learn more about king cake:
King Cake has been around a long time, for over 300 years in France. The cake was made with French bread-dough. Sugar was sprinkled on top, and a bean was hidden somewhere inside. Whoever found the bean got to be king for the day. Tomorrow he/she was expected to buy or make the next cake.
This painting is from 1774. Its name— Le gateau des Rois. That’s French. In English that means the cake of the king. Click this link to learn more about the history of king cake:
King Day and King Cake are New Orleans traditions. Did you know that it was once a French colony? If you go to New Orleans you’ll meet a lot of French culture.
One of the traditions still around is celebrating Joan of Arc’s birthday. It’s January 6th. To the left is a statue of Joan. She’s famous because she liberated France from English rule.
The first parade of the Mardi Gras season is for Joan of Arc. It’s always on her birthday, January 6th. Here’s the link for the 2019 parade schedule: http://www.mardigrasneworleans.com/schedule.html
King Day dates back to the old French and English holiday, Twelfth Night. In 567 the Catholic Church established The Twelve Days of Christmas, and they let you decide when to start your count, December 25th or 26th. That meant you celebrated Twelfth Night on either January 5th or 6th.
Twelfth Night is part of our culture. Shakespeare wrote about it in a play that was first performed in 1602. The song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, was published in 1780, but its roots go farther back into French and English history.
If you celebrated Twelfth Night in 2019 you probably ate king cake, and you probably took down your Christmas decorations. I hope so…it’s bad luck if you didn’t.
Here are two links if you’d like to read more about Twelfth Night:
Here’s a Mardi Gras question from Traveltrivia.com. Only 41% of those who answered got it right. I didn’t. Maybe you will! The answer’s at the bottom of this post. Good luck!
Which city hosted the 1st Mardi Gras celebration in the US?
The first parades of Mardi Gras were on January 6th, King Day. There were 3 of them in 2019. This float wasn’t there, but it helps you picture what might have been.
The Joan of Arc parade was first. It’s a walking parade. If you want to join in, dress in gold, and bring lots of king cake to share.
The Société Des Champs Elysée parade is one of the newest ones. It’s named after a famous street in Paris, France. 40 people will ride in this parade. I wonder if their float will look anything like the famous French street.
The third parade is the Phunny Phorty Phellows. What a name! They’re one of the oldest krewes (crews) around. The Fellows believe in fun so they dress accordingly.
Bands and dance teams are also part of the parade. If you want to march, check the link below. Then apply between August and November.
There are 3 ways to watch the parade. It’s free if you pick a place along the street. If you want a balcony or grand stand seat, you can buy your spot. The better it is, the more it costs. The best place is aboard a float. It’s the most expensive, but you’re part of the parade. Start searching after Easter if you want to float down the street.
This site has the parade schedule, plus more information:
One of the best parts of the parade is all the free stuff. The people riding aboard the floats buy bags of cheap treasures. They throw out necklaces and toys. Always catch them. Don’t reach down to pick up them up. Your fingers might be caught. If it’s on the ground, put a foot on it. Then pick it up between floats.
Here’s one last link from New Orleans:
Here’s your answer from Traveltrivia.com correctly. Which city hosted the first Mardi Gras celebration?
Mobile, Alabama, hosted the first Mardi Gras festival in the U.S. back in 1703. Mardi Gras originated as a Christian celebration between the Feast of the Epiphany and Ash Wednesday. The very first Mardi Gras parade was held in 1711 and featured a papier-maché cow head.
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!