Just when you think it's safe to go back to eating healthily.... ... the French celebrate Ephipany! And frankly, I love it.
Epiphany is the festival which celebrates the arrival of the Three Kings to visit the baby Jesus. The French bake three different types of cake, two basically 'crown-shaped', like the one we ate yesterday, and one like a pie. We aim to try out all three over the next few evenings!
Each kings' cake (gateau des rois) is sold with a cardboard crown on the top and a secret hidden inside - it's like the English sixpence in the Christmas Pudding. The secret is a little china figurine called a fève, which means 'bean'. Once upon a time it must have been a real bean, but now it may represent a popular film character (Asterix or Harry Potter), a famous painting or sporting event, or a character from the traditional French nativity. Very appropriately, our first fève of the season seems to be a king! Son 1 spotted him at the bottom of his second slice. This means that Son 1 was officially king for the night, although he didn't bother with the crown.
I like the Three Kings. This is partially because they are quite mysterious. I'll illustrate what I mean with photos from my mantelpiece (to be cleared tonight, honest).First mystery: How many of them were there?
Think it's obvious? But no numbers are given in the Bible - it's just that they brought three presents, so we traditionally think of there having been three givers. So there could have been loads more, or only two, perhaps.Second mystery: Who where these men?
Kings? - the Bible doesn't say so.
Wise Men? - maybe that's closer. We knw they studied the stars. So why do we call them kings? Tradition, I suppose. Quite mysterious, though.
The East. Oh, I would love more information than that....
Easy, at the stable with the shepherds! Surely? But no... We really do mess the story around to make our nativity plays fit! Check this out to see how much later they must have really arrived.And as well as the mystery, I like what they represent, because they represent me. They were people from other faiths and other countries who were included at the birth of Jesus. Even though Jesus lived and worshipped all his life as a Jew, from the very beginning other people were invited to join in too. I like that very much.
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