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Twelfth Night Cake or "King's Cake"

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Park's Shakspearean Twelfth-Night Characters

Twelfth Night Cake or "King's Cake"

Park's Shakspearean Twelfth-Night Characters. Handcolored print, ca. 1830. Detail of envelope

The illustration above shows William Shakespeare celebrating the holiday Twelfth Night, surrounded by characters from his plays. Shakespeare wrote a play called Twelfth Night around 1601 or 1602.


Twelfth Night is the day of Epiphany, which marks the end of a winter festival that started on All Hallows Eve, or Halloween. According to one superstition, all Christmas decorations have to be removed on Twelfth Night, or else they have to stay up all year to avoid bad luck! 


At a traditional Twelfth Night celebration, each child in the family or neighborhood brings a small gift to the party, and all form a procession and lay their gifts at a crib under the Christmas tree.


Do you see the cake in this drawing? The traditional Twelfth Night Cake has three dried beans or trinkets hidden inside. The children who get the beans or trinkets in their pieces of cake receive a crown and are the "Twelfth Night Kings" during the remainder of the party. The kings distribute the gifts to all the children and select the songs and games.

Click here for instructions for how to make a Twelfth Night Cake.


Remember: have an adult help you. Be on the look out for the bean or the trinket!! Don’t swallow it!



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Twelfth Night Cake Recipe

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