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Celebrating Christmas until The Feast of the Epiphany
When my wife and I had our daughter, we didn’t want her to feel that melancholy many children, including our childhood selves, have after Christmas Day has passed. As a child, raised by a Catholic family, we always celebrated the Christmas holidays until what is liturgically called, The Feast of the Epiphany (January 6th) also known as Three Kings Day and is considered the 12th Day of Christmas; the final day of the season. So since our daughter was old enough to understand, we made sure to extend the season and continue seasonal festivities until that date.
We leave the tree up until January 6th
Though the Christmas tree usually is well passed looking its best, and knowing that it will leave many pine needles that will probably stay around the apartment until the following holiday, we continue to keep it up. This, of course, is much to the dismay of our super, who will need to sweep the hallways after I pass with a very dry tree; which in turn gives me more reason to give him a good tip the following year.
In Europe, they continue to celebrate until January 6
The Christmas music is no longer heard ubiquitously, decorations are taken down from storefronts, and many on their way to abstaining from all good things that make up for a Holiday Season, such as imbibing daily and feasting like a king, as part of a new found resolution. We, however, carry on. This is not unique to us, as in many European countries, they too continue to celebrate until this day.
Many enjoy a Galette Des Rois – The King’s Cake
In many French-speaking cultures, there is the ceremony of the “Galette des Rois” (The Kings Cake). Marking the arrival of the Three Wise Men in Bethlehem. The cake is composed of a puff pastry cake, with a small charm, the fève (bean), hidden inside, it is usually filled with frangipane, a cream made from sweet almonds, butter, eggs, and sugar. We follow this tradition and it always brings great joy to our daughter. The “feve” these days is usually not a bean but a little prize, usually in the form of a small ceramic figure.
A surprise inside the French King’s Cake
We’ve collected many of these prizes throughout the years, and have, in the early days, made sure that the slice my daughter was served is the one in which the prize was hidden. It’s a quaint celebration by which we all sit around the table wearing paper crowns, listen to Nat King Cole one more time, and end the Holiday Season as it begins; with laughter and eating the most delectables treats.
Want to make a Galette Des Rois?
I have never made a galette des Rois myself. However, if you wanted to give it a try, I’m sure you can find it in one of the Martha Stewart Christmas cookbooks.
You can also find the pastry in most French-based bakeries between January 6th and Carnivale (AKA, Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesdays).
Where to have Galette Des Rois in New York City:
There are many excellent patisseries in the city that make excellent galettes, such as Balthazar, Laduree, and Maison Kayser. Our choice for the best in town is a small cafe named, Ceci Cela. Their galette always seems to have the best “feve” (prize), crowns, and most importantly, the flakiest pastry and traditional frangipane. Bring it home, invite friends and family, make some coffee and serve a bit of brandy, and you’ll all find yourselves wearing paper crowns hoping to be served the slice that has the prize and be king or the queen for the day.
Where to have Galette Des Rois in the world:
In the bleak midwinter, there are few places that are as beautiful as Strasbourg, France. The place seems to be perpetually in the Holiday spirit. There are swans at the bridge leading to Petite France which look straight out of a Tchaikovsky ballet and family-run establishments that look as if they were molded straight from a miniature German Christmas Village. The place to purchase your galette is a boulangerie and patisserie named, Woerle, which have been baking delectables since 1919. In this establishment, you will find galettes of all sizes. My daughter prefers the single portion, which assures her the prize.
How to get to Strasbourg from Belgium
We traveled to Strasbourg from Belgium. By car is an excellent way, to not only see the countryside but also get a better feel as to the culture behind certain destinations. For example, why a place like Strasbourg has a more Germanic sensibility rather than that of Gallic. If this is something you’d like to possibly consider, look no further than renting your car through our partner company named, Auto Europe. We have used them many times and were always pleased by how they facilitated the rental process.
If a trip to Strasbourg is a far-off dream, then travel there through tasting this delightful treat. Lastly, and most importantly, it makes for a great tradition. Why not extend the most wonderful time of year?
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