E is a junior at Bates University where she skies for their cross country team. She grew up with me in Sun Valley, Idaho.
Me: “How does your family celebrate Mardi Gras?”
E: “Well there is this figurine, a little, small plastic, baby.
They bake it into a cake
And when the figurine—or—when you’re cutting the cake,
whoever gets the baby is supposed to pay for the cake next year.”
Me: “Did you ever get the baby and pay for the cake?”
E: “No. They would just always tell me that I had to buy the cake next year—I was about 10 years old when I got the baby,
but it was a very exciting moment to get the baby and I would keep it forever and ever.”
Me: “What does the tradition mean?”
E: “It’s from a biblical story.
The three kings who brings gifts to Baby Jesus
The baby represents Jesus
the cake was always the colors of Mardi Gras—
Purple, Yellow and green.”
Receiving the baby (who represents Jesus) in your slice of cake, symbolizes luck and prosperity. In E’s family, the person who gets the baby has to pay for next year’s cake, however, traditionally receiving the baby means that the finder become the ‘king’ or ‘queen’ of the evening.
To read more about these cakes, and a different variation on the story you can click this link: