King for a day

January 7th, 2011

Yesterday was Dreikönigstag, or Three Kings’ Day, also known as Epiphany, which celebrates the visitation of the the Magi (the three kings) to the baby Jesus. In Switzerland (and I believe Germany as well, but perhaps a German reader could correct me if I’m wrong) it’s traditional to celebrate the day with a Dreikönigskuchen, a sweet bread wreath topped with almonds.

A tiny plastic king is baked into one of the sections of the wreath.

By tradition, the person who finds the king gets to be “king for a day” and wear the paper crown that is sold together with the bread.

This isn’t just for kids. Plenty of people will bring a Dreikönigskuchen in to work to split among their co-workers. People can be downright insistent that the person who finds the king actually wear the crown all day. Needless to say, kids tend to want want want to find the king and adults tend to try to avoid it if they can.

In theory, if you examine the sections of the bread really carefully you can guess where the king is because that section of the wreath bakes a little differently, but I guess wrong as often as I guess right, so maybe it’s something you need years of practice with.

This year, Boychen found the king and got to wear the crown and be king for a day – which is fitting because he’s turned into a bossy little thing. People talk about the terrible twos but I’ve always found three to be the year of pushing, testing, defying, and general trying of my patience. Good thing he’s got that killer smile, I tell you.