VIVE LE ROI ! (Long life to the King!) VIVE LA REINE! (Long life to the Queen!)
Beginning of January (janvier), French bakeries are filled with la galette des rois. It's made of pâte feuilleté, puff pastry, and stuffed with a dense, creamy almond paste called frangipane. It's divine!
The History of la Galette des Rois comes from an ancient Roman Festival named Saturnalia. Romans were honoring Saturn, the Roman god for agriculture who symbolized the Golden Age. The forbidden activity of gambling was then allowed during the festivities. The tradition implied too to reverse the roles between master and slave. One slave was designated as “the king of the day”. To be designated, the cake was cut in as many as they were slaves and the youngest member of the family would determine which slice was for whom a cake with a bean (la fève) was hidden inside.
During the middle age, the time of the Galette was used during the time of feudal fees. It was a custom to give one Galette to his own master. La Galette des Rois was even celebrated at Louis XIV’s royal table! The Famous Sun King of Versailles.
Here is a French Ouh la la Netflix series "Versailles" that you should watch by the way if you missed it. It was filmed at Versailles Castle in Paris.
Due to famine in 1711, the Galette was forbidden so that flour only be used to make bread. But the Galette des Rois survived, especially outside Paris.
During the rough time of the French Revolution, the Galette des Rois became Galette de l’ Egalite, or Equality Cake. The day of the Kings became the day of the Sans-Culottes (meaning Without-Underwear), French Revolutionaries from lower classes. Sans-culottes believed in the ideology that all men were equal.
In 1801 the Concordat set the date of the Epiphany on the 6th of January, establishing the tradition of the Galette des Rois on a permanent basis in France.
This tradition exists since the 14th century, imagine it's nearly 600 years ago! It's served on January 6th to celebrate the Epiphany (a religious feast day commemorating the arrival of the Three Kings to the manger where Jesus was born). Today, it’s eaten throughout the month of January and is simply a festive way to celebrate the new year with family and friends, regardless of religious background.