What Does the Baby in a King Cake Represent?

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A King Cake
A King Cake (Image: Rosemary Buffoni/iStock/Getty Images)

Celebrate Mardi Gras with a King Cake, a frosted yeast dough cake that traditionally houses a tiny plastic baby. The cake can be served anytime during the holiday season, which begins on January 6, the 12th night after Christmas, and ends on Fat Tuesday, 47 days before Easter Sunday. The plastic baby within the cake represents Jesus.

The History of the King Cake

King Cakes didn't always contain a baby Jesus; in the late 19th century, celebrators hid a bean, pecan or jeweled ring inside the baked item. Whomever found the treasure within would be crowned the king or queen of the season's first Mardi Gras ball. The plastic baby was first baked into a cake in the 1950s, and now, these little plastic figures come in a multitude of colors, including pink, brown, green, purple and gold. Tradition dictates that whomever finds the baby in their slice of cake must provide the next cake for celebration. When ordering a King Cake from a bakery, the plastic baby might come on the side to be inserted into the cake by you. This protects the bakery from any potential litigation as a result of chipped teeth, choking or other injuries.

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