7 things you should know about Fat Tuesday and King Cake

Time for debauchery, beads and/or King Cake.

It is Fat Tuesday.

We may be more than 850 miles away from that Big Easy, but the Mardi Gras spirit can be found in the Miami Valley.

The King Cakes are flying off the shelves at Dorothy Lane Market in Oakwood.

Cory Morris, bakery production manager of the store located at 2710 Far Hills Ave., has sold more than 500 of the legendary Mardi Gras treats at her location.

She describes it as a really large coffee cake. A 20-ounce cake retails for about $13.

Dorothy Lane sells the oval-shaped cake in plain or filled with cream cheese, apple, raspberry, apricot or cherry filling.

Morris said the cream cheese filling is the most popular.

Due to the risk of choking, Dorothy Lane provides bags containing the King Cake baby and bead. It is up to the customer to hide the baby in or under the cake decorated with yellow, green and purple sprinkles.

“Whoever get the piece with the baby has to buy next year’s cake and you are supposed to have good luck,” Morris said. “I don’t know how lucky you are when you have to buy next year’s cake.”

Here are seven other facts you need to know about Mardi Gras, King Cakes and Fat Tuesday:

Fatter than Wednesday

French for “Fat Tuesday,” Mardi Gras is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. It is the last day to let it all hang out and go in your tummy before the season of penance kicks in for Roman Catholics and other observers on Wednesday.

Raucous history

The celebration dates back thousands of years to often debaucherous pagan spring and fertility celebration such as Rome’s Saturnalia and Lupercalia, according to the History Channel.

Church leaders decided to add those popular holidays to the new faith instead of trying to get rid of them altogether.

Mardi Gras is now a prelude to the six-week Lent season between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday.

New Orleans has been partying a long time

Mardi Gras has been celebrated in New Orleans since the 1730s, according to Mardi Gras New Orleans. Street parades featuring “maskers with carriages and horseback riders” started in the 1830s.

Round for a reason

While some trace them back to Ancient Rome’s pagan holidays, many believe the tradition of making wreath-shaped to honor Christianity’s Three Kings goes back to old world France and Spain. The Spanish and French spread the tradition to New Orleans and elsewhere in the Americas, according to NPR.

The cakes could be found throughout Europe, according to Scientific American.

In England they were called Twelfth Night cakes, in Portugul the Bola-Rei, in Spain the Rosca de Reyes and in France the Gâteau De Rois.

When to eat a king

In New Orleans and other places, King Cakes are popular between Feast of the Epiphany (also Little Christmas, Kings Day and Twelfth Night) beginning Jan. 6 and Fat Tuesday. The season is known as Carnival of Carnaval.

Baby and a bean

The bean or a toy baby (often made of plastic) placed in the cake represents the Baby Jesus.

The cakes are oval-shaped to symbolize the unity of faiths, according to New Orleans Showcase.

Colors matter

The cakes are decorated in Mardi Gras colors. Purple represents justice, green is for faith and gold is for power.

Contact this blogger at arobinson@DaytonDailyNews.com or Twitter.com/DDNSmartMouth

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