Anglicans Online banner More about the gryphon
Independent On the web since 1994 More than 250,000 readers More than 30,000 links Updated every Sunday

Noted This Week
Sites new to AO

News Centre
News archive

News flash: a summary of the top headlines
Start here
Anglicans believe...
The Prayer Book
The Bible

Read letters to AO
Write to us

Resources A to Z

World Anglicanism
Anglican Communion
In full communion
Not in the Communion

Dioceses and Parishes
Hong Kong
New Zealand
South Africa

Vacancies Centre
List a vacancy
Check openings worldwide

Add a site or link to AO
Add a site to AO
Link to AO

About Anglicans Online
Back issues
Awards and publicity
About our logo

Our search engine

Hallo again to all.

The end of Christmastide is upon us. Twelfth Night and Epiphany are this week, although there is some dispute as to whether Twelfth Night is the 5th or 6th of January; this article in The Telegraph (London) explains the dilemma.

A thousand years ago, the celebration of Three Kings Day and Twelfth Night was as important, if not more so, than Christmas Day itself. If your parish doesn't make a big deal out of Twelfth Night, you should try visiting one that does, so that you can find out what it's all about. It's only in modern times, alas, that Twelfth Night has been reclaimed for worship. Some historians believe that the Twelfth Night celebrations derive from those of the earlier Feast of Fools, and by Shakespeare's time, Twelfth Night celebrations were firmly associated by the public with merrymaking and not with worship.

But any occasion can be an occasion for worship, if approached and handled properly. Anglican parishes around the world are increasingly putting Twelfth-Night gatherings on the worship calendar. Share a meal, re-enact a mediæval Herod play, then process to the nave for a brief eucharist. Be worshipful, and God will be with you.

If your parish doesn't pay attention to Twelfth Night, what can you do?

A Kings cake
une galette des rois
Since long before Jesus, worship and food have been inseparable. The Last Supper was a Passover meal. One of the oldest traditions of the Christian celebration of Twelfth Night is what the French call la galette des rois, the kings' cake. (The French generally tend to have written more about food than have the English, so it's easier to trace its roots via Escoffier than via Mrs Beeton). Escoffier has this to say (translated) about galettes in general:

'A flat round cake of variable size. The galette probably dates back to the Neolithic era, when thick cereal pastes were cooked by spreading them out on hot stones. In ancient times, people made galettes from oats, wheat, rye, and even barley, sweetened with honey. Then came the hearth cakes of the Middle Ages and all of the regional varieties: the galette of Corèze (made with walnuts and chestnuts), the galette of Roussillon (made with candied fruits), the marzipan galette of the Nivernais, the curd-cheese galette of the Jura, the puff-pastry galette of Normandy, filled with jam and fresh cream, the famous galette of Perugia (a delicate yeasted pastry, like brioche, flavoured with lemon zest and topped with butter and sugar).'

During the French Revolution the galette des rois was briefly renamed gâteau de l’égalité. Made properly, it has baked into it an object such as a coin or a bean or a carved wooden baby Jesus. Whomever is served the piece of the galette that contains that object becomes the King or Queen of the Twelfth Night celebration; in mediæval tradition that person then chose a mate for the evening (to be the Queen or King) by dropping it in their glass.

Here's how to make your own Kings' Cake. You know it can't be hard (even though this recipe is from Auguste Escoffier) because, as Escoffier points out, the cake dates back to the Neolithic era.

Twelfth-night cake

    1. Make about half a pound of puff pastry and roll it out into a round shape about the thickness of your thumb. Place the dough on a baking sheet. Push a bean or coin into the dough.
    2. Trace a pattern on the top of the dough with the point of a knife, and then brush it with beaten egg.
    3. Bake in a very hot oven (gas 9, 240 C, 475 F) until the top is golden brown.
    4. You can also roll the pastry into two rounds and sandwich some frangipane between them before baking.

If you find Escoffier intimidating and consider frangipane to be edible, the BBC offers this recipe for Kings' cake on its 'Good Food' website.

This is Anglicans Online's 15th anniversary issue. We'll go have a cup of strong coffee to celebrate, and see you next week.

Our signature
All of us at Anglicans Online

Last updated: 3 January 2010

A thin blue line
This web site is independent. It is not official in any way. Our editorial staff is private and unaffiliated. Please contact about information on this page. ©2010 Society of Archbishop Justus
. Please address all spam to