Wednesday, November 19, 2008

King Cakes and Other Weird Traditions

Those of us on the city parade committee have been working away for the upcoming Christmas parade on December 6th. We have been meeting at a local restaurant, where we plan and eat and fellowship. This year our Grand Marshall will be retired city council member Tom Lefebvre (who still owes me a tour of the coke ovens BTW!). Tom is from Louisiana and a big LSU fan (understatement) so we are creating a parade and a reception with the theme of Mardi Gras.

Last week our table of 9 women got extremely tickled when we were discussing ordering King Cakes for the city parade reception. Someone mentioned the baby in the King Cake. One lady had no clue what we were talking about, "the baby in the King Cake". It was so funny to explain to her. She had never heard of such. We got quite tickled at her thinking we were teasing her about their being a plastic baby in the King Cake.

For what it's worth, here is the info on the King Cake, in case you are in the 2% who don't know:

(Wikepedia)"The "king cake" takes its name from the Biblical three kings. Catholic tradition states that their journey to Bethlehem took twelve days (the Twelve Days of Christmas), and that they arrived to honor the Christ child on Epiphany. The season for king cake extends from the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas (Twelfth Night and Epiphany Day), through to Mardi Gras day.
the most common trinket has been a small plastic baby. Many people say this represents the
baby Jesus, tied in to the connection with Epiphany. Many people attach no particular religious significance to the cake or trinket. The "baby in the king cake" was said to have become common after a New Orleans area bakery chain got a large shipment of such plastic baby dolls from Hong Kong very cheaply in the 1950s, and some people say there is little further significance to the baby, but earlier ceramic baby dolls as trinkets are documented in New Orleans back to the 1930s
The common plastic baby of today is usually colored pink, brown, white or gold. Due to the choking hazard posed by small trinkets, some bakeries opt to include the "plastic baby" separately from the pastry. The plastic babies are most often found separately in cakes from stores not native to New Orleans such as Sav-A-Center, whereas local bakeries are more likely to sell cakes with babies already inside. Usually when kingcakes are ordered to be shipped out of New Orleans the cake and trinket are packaged separately so that the plastic baby will not pose a choking threat to kingcake novices.
The person who gets the trinket is declared the King or Queen of the day. Sometimes there are separate cakes to select the males and females; the one for women is sometimes called a Loomis Cake. The king or queen is usually obligated to supply the next king cake or host the next party or both. King cake parties may be held at the homes of people who live on or near the routes of Carnival
It is a common practice in elementary and secondary schools to have king cake parties, usually on a Friday. The person who receives the trinket is required to bring the cake the following week.
In some workplaces, a variation on this tradition is simplified so that workers share a king cake at lunch or during the day, with the person receiving the trinket bringing the cake for the next workday."

This week, it was I who became confused. One member of the group, Mama Joy, has secured a bevvy of Mardi Gras beads to throw in the parade. I believe someone mentioned concern about certain body parts being on the beads. I had never heard of such! I have been to Mardi Gras in Mobile and have yet to see those beads. I guess it's a New Orleans thing? And I really don't understand the reasoning behind it. Body parts? Uh, "private" body parts, to be exact. Oh, what a sheltered life I have led. LOL!
Well, when you get a roomful of women together who are all talking at once things get a bit crazy. One lady, I will call Maude (because she looks just like her, remember that show?) began telling me about her beads (like the ones someone was talking about) made of crystal of graduated sizes. This lady is someones grandma!!! Her son is a minister!!!! I was floored at the thought of her with those beads around her neck. "You have those beads???"I asked. "OH, yesssss, honey! They are crystal-different sizes. She didn't skip a beat.
I am certain my jaw hit the floor.
I looked over to my friend, Diva who had also heard the conversation and at this point had lost it, laughing hysterically. Which in turn I did too. imagine! I found out later that Maude missed the part of the conversation about what those certain beads had on them. I wish I could've seen my face. Or her's had she realized what I thought she was talking about.)

Oh, there are grand plans for the next parade meeting. That lady who didn't know about the baby....we are planning to stick a plastic baby her next meal. She is certain to figure it out then!

Anyway, you live and learn. If you plan to come out to the parade- know you will all be safe.
It will be a family friendly Christmas parade. No body part beads.

See you there!


Bama Belle said...

Hey Leigh if ya'll need numbers or bakery recommendations for the king cakes let me know. Being from New Orleans you know I have the "hook up" LOL And NO I do not have any of THOSE beads my goodness. I am not sure that in all my parades in New Orleans I have ever seen those beads. A few of the REAL (or surgically enhanced maybe)ones being flashed but not the beads. HMMMM? LOL Obviously ya'll have too much fun! Have a good one.

Michelle said...

When I was 13, my family went to New Orleans to visit family while it was Mardi Gras.. They had a King Cake there and I got the piece that had the baby in it.. I was like "Um, there is a baby in my cake" lol The looks of "Bless Her Heart, she isnt from here" were hilarious!

"J" said...

I've never been to a real Mardi Gras!!!! =( I wanted to go to the one that Galveston holds every year but I hear it's not very safe!!! All the weird-o's come out to play!!! lol

I've heard of the king cake but I've never had one! Are they good? I've also heard of the baby being in the king cake! I just never knew WHY it was in there?!?! Thanks for all the info!!!!

Yalls meetings sounds like a total HOOT!!! You MUST take pics next week of the meeting - the baby in her meal part!!!!! =)

Mari said...

I only heard recently about the king cakes with the baby in it. Thanks for all the info on it. Sounds like a fun tradition!

Terri said...

Thanks for reminding me I need to get on the ball about my Open House and the Parade.

I HATE the parade! I close the office at 2 and always get stuck (can't get out of the parking lot or across the tracks)

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

I posted a recipe for an easy king cake a while back.
I'll have to try to see your family friendly parade!

Keetha said...

While I have heard of a King Cake, they just aren't a big tradition in these here parts - - -

Leigh said...

Bama Belle- I may be calling on you. My friend Diva lived in LA for years and is a big fan of the cakes from Pauls' but those are 52 bucks. I dont think so! She is going to call Gambino's to see that price. Where would you suggest?

MIchelle- LOL! That's funny!

J- I have had good king cakes and bad ones. It depends on the baker and the fillings. The baby is alot of fun! Oh! I'll be getting a picture of her and the baby. lOL!

Sure Mari!

Terri- You best get outta dodge by then because you WILL get stuck. If you do, I will be in the Publix parking lot. Come and see me!

Sandi- I will swing by and see that recipe. Do you want to make it for us? Smile. Come and see me at the parade. Actually, Sandi I will be in Publix lot. Every year a VW club comes and drives their cars. You should join them!

Keetha- I wouldnt think so.