Panier of Plenty

Tirer les Rois

One of the new traditions to embrace here is the custom of sharing
a piece of Galette des Rois (in this case pâte feuilletée, puff
pastry, with frangipane) in the hope that it might contain the
fêve (originating from a broad bean and now a collectable porcelain
figurine), thus gaining the golden crown, and in turn offering
the next galette to be shared.

From the patisserie

From the pâtisserie

In my first bite

In my first bite

Now associated with January 6th and Epiphany (l’Éphinanie) where
the Three Wise Men (Roi Mages, or Magi) are honoured, the bean
dates back to a Roman custom, where its finder was crowned ‘King
of the Feast’ during the celebrations of Saturnalia, aligned with
the Winter Solstice. Saturn represented the Golden Age: abundance
and peace – thus wealth, and liberation – as feasting, free speech
and a reversal of roles between masters and their charges, was an
integral part of the reverie honouring nature, and the agricultural

Frresco, Saturn

Fresco, Saturn

Saturnus – Saturnalia

Gold, and hence the attributes of the ‘Golden Age’ are linked
to the light – the sun – sustainer of life. Saturn (Saturday),
in terms of the discovery of the planet and its rings, is
associated with ‘a hard passage’ in astrology: a period where
structures we have created to sustain our life are put to the
test and stripped away – as if we are ‘cut’ by the rings of
ice and reformed, as the new enters.

Yet the true ‘qualities’ of Saturn, as a deity in Roman times, were
much less harsh, as he represented a ripening, a coming of age or
‘to maturity’, as both the ‘golden harvest’ was revered and the
flowering of wisdom, in the form of universal truth emanating from
the sun, was acknowledged. His Greek counterpart was Cronus, radiating
the same eminence – a reminder of the abundance that is there to be
shared when all is in harmony and nature is harnessed and thanked,
in the cycle of receiving and giving that accompanies rituals.

Becoming the King of the Feast is an honour, yet continuing the
flow of prosperity is part of the ‘unspoken’ contract with life
– reaping and then sowing in accordance with nature as ‘giving
back’ is of equal importance. He is therefore a reminder of
‘balance’ as the rings are held in equilibrium, marking the centre,
by natural laws that we long to understand – a mirror in the heavens
as a sign for mankind: ‘accept all the goodness in life, yet in
turn contribute, for this completes the cycle (circle)’. As receiving
and giving go hand in hand, Saturn governs ‘order’ in accordance
to nature’s plan.

This entry was published on January 6, 2013 at 2:19 pm. It’s filed under Cuisine, Culture and Arts, Europe, Expat, Fête, Festival, Food, France, French Culture, History, Nature, Philosophy, Seasons, South of France, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Tirer les Rois

  1. …et tu es toujours la Reine de cette tradition 😉

  2. mesarapugs on said:

    Je suis d’accord! 😉

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