King Cake History

The 2014 Mardi Gras season begins on January 6 and continues until Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. During that time of the year, one of the most beloved traditions in New Orleans is that of the King Cake.

The twelfth day after Christmas is known as the Epiphany, Twelfth Night, or King’s Day. This tradition began in the late 1800s. As part of the celebration of Mardi Gras, it is traditional to bake an oval cake in honor of the three kings – thus the King Cake. The shape of the King Cake symbolizes the unity of faiths. Each cake is decorated in the traditional Mardi Gras colors: purple represents justice; green represents faith; and gold represents power. A small baby symbolizing the Baby Jesus is baked into each cake.

In New Orleans, King Cake parties are held throughout the Mardi Gras Season. In offices, classrooms and homes throughout the city, King Cakes are sliced and enjoyed by all. Like the biblical story, the search for the baby adds excitement as each person waits to see in whose slice of cake the baby will be discovered.

While custom holds that the person who finds the baby in their slice will be rewarded with good luck, that person is traditionally responsible for bringing the King Cake to the next gathering.