(reposted from My Life In Cake’s 2009 Twelfth Night Post)
“Now Christmas is past, Twelfth Night is the last
To the Old Year adieu, Great joy to the new.”
School of the Seasons
Today is Twelfth Night, the last day of the 12 days of Christmas, and the day when the wise men finally got to see the little baby Jesus. There’s a special place in my heart for the wise men, especially the one named Jasper, or “keeper of the treasure.” But I digress. Like all good Christian holidays, Twelfth Night has its roots in pagan tradition, this one in the Roman winter solstice festival of Saturnalia. For more info on Twelfth Night, check out the entry in Waverly Fitzgerald’s always excellent traditional calendar archives at School of the Seasons. Also, apparently, the Camden County, New Jersey Historical Society has a bitchin’ Twelfth Night party, and they have an impressive amount of things to say about it in this very thorough article, “Twelfth Night, the Holiday That Time Forgot.” Twelfth Night also is a traditional day to take down your Christmas tree and greenery (which I did) and bake a traditional Twelfth Night Cake (which I did not.) But, apparently the Twelfth Night Cake is a pretty big deal:
“In the days when Christmas was kept in the “good old-fashioned way,” the Twelfth Night celebrations marked the last of the twelve days of feasting and jollification following the Festival itself. It was on Twelfth Night that some of the famous cake, in which was hidden a bean and a pea, was handed to every guest. The man and woman lucky enough to find these in their portions were acclaimed respectively “King of the Bean” and “Queen of the Pea,” and presided over the revels which followed.
By the 17th and 18th centuries the cake itself was often made into elaborate and even fantastic shapes, such as ships and castles, with guns which could be fired. As late as in the 19th century confectioners’ shops were lit up on Twelfth Night to display cakes.”
(Text and picture courtesy of The Food Museum
Tonight, January 6, 2010, is the official Twelfth Night Celebration for Asheville! And guess who will be making the King Cakes this year? That’s right, your friends here at Short Street Cakes. King Cakes will be available from now through Mardi Gras (February 16th). Much Love and Happy Revelling!