Skip to main content

Reply to "Celebrating Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday"

Greetings from south Louisiana, where we call the day before Ash Wednesday “Mardi Gras” (Fat Tuesday) rather than Shrove Tuesday.

"Mardi Gras" is a French phrase that literally means "Fat Tuesday"--the traditional last day of the season of Epiphany. Both the Feast of Epiphany which takes place 12 days after Christmas, and Fat Tuesday forty days later, celebrate the Magi and "revealing" (epiphany) of Jesus as King with feasting and frivolity. Thus, Mardi Gras represents the "last hurrah" before we turn our thoughts and attitudes towards the season of repentance.

One of the culinary features of Mardi Gras here in south Louisiana is a sweet pastry called a "King Cake." It bears the traditional colors of Mardi Gras (see their significance quoted below), and also hides a surprise in its layers!

From "King Cake History" at

The King Cake tradition is thought to have been brought to New Orleans from France in 1870. A King Cake is an oval-shaped bakery delicacy, crossed between a coffee cake and a French pastry that is as rich in history as it is in flavor. It's decorated in royal colors of PURPLE which signifies "Justice," GREEN for "Faith," and GOLD for "Power." These colors were chosen to resemble a jeweled crown honoring the Wise Men who visited the Christ Child on Epiphany. In the past such things as coins, beans, pecans, or peas were also hidden in each King Cake.

Today, a tiny plastic baby is the common prize. At a party, the King Cake is sliced and served. Each person looks to see if their piece contains the "baby." If so, then that person is named "King" for a day and bound by custom to host the next party and provide the King Cake.

The Writing Team’s lesson on THE MAGI has a terrific Cooking Workshop lesson that features a "quick baking" King Cake your kids can make (and can also be adapted into a church-wide inter-generational event before Ash Wednesday. Supporting Members can view the lesson at


Images (1)
  • mceclip0
Last edited by Luanne Payne Inc. is a volunteer-run, 100% member supported, 501(c)3 non-profit Sunday School lesson ministry. You are welcome to borrow and adapt content for non-commercial teaching purposes --as long as both the site and author are referenced. Inc reserves the right to manage, move, condense, delete, and otherwise improve all content posted to the site. Read our Terms of Service. is rated5 stars on Google based on 51 reviews. Serving a global community including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, S. Africa, and more!