If you pass your local Chamonix bakery in early January you will no doubt find a selection of glazed pastry cakes with golden paper crowns sitting on top of them... or even a selection of small charms to purchase at the counter.
This wonderful tradition dates back to the fourteenth century and is likely in some ways to be related to the Roman tradition dedicated to the god Saturn and celebrating the longer days after the winter solstice.
Across France during the 'Epiphany', the celebration of the Magi (or Kings) visiting the new baby Jesus, which takes place on the 6th of January, cakes are eaten which are known as 'Gâteau des Rois' or Cake of Kings. Traditionally the cakes are made from a brioche and covered with candied fruit and sugar although this is not always the case. They do however all contain a bean or a charm of some kind and whoever eats the piece with the bean or charm will be crowned the next king! This is not always a privilege as it can mean that you have to buy the next cake!!
Whatever your thoughts and traditions, each region and family will no doubt have their own take on the celebrations. But with one thing in common, this is a time to celebrate with friends and family and eat some cake! I won't be complaining about that! I will be sampling as many as I can find in the hopes that I can receive a charm and my crown :-)