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Lesson Transcript

In French, it’s Épiphanie.
French people have a particular dessert on January 6 to celebrate Epiphany. Although it’s not a public holiday, it’s one of the best-known holidays in France.
In this lesson, we’re going to discover what Epiphany is and how it’s celebrated in France.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question?
What’s special about the cake galette des Rois made for the President of the French Republic?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
The word “Epiphany” comes from Greek, and it means “appearance.” For the Greeks, the epiphanes were Gods who made themselves visible to men. On January 6, these Greek gods were celebrated, hence the word “Epiphany.” Later, this holiday became Christianized. For Christians, Epiphany celebrated the encounter of the three Magi Kings, Gaspard, Melchior, and Balthazar, with the Son of God, Jesus. This is why the French use the expression “tirer les rois” or “manger une galette des Rois,” meaning “Eat the Epiphany cake,” when they eat the dessert.
There are different sorts of galettes des Rois in France. In the north of France, it’s a cake of puff pastry. It can be eaten with jam or filled with frangipane, meaning “marzipan,” chocolate, or even fruit. In the south of France, it’s a brioche with preserved fruits in the shape of a crown. The most famous galette, and the best selling galette in France, is the one made of puff pastry filled with frangipane.
What’s special about the galette des Rois is that it contains a lucky charm in the shape of a little figurine, or fève. There are two kinds. Each year, bakeries offer a series of charms based on the same theme. For example, there are figurines representing French celebrities. The charm is hidden in the galette and the person who finds it in their piece becomes a king or a queen for the day. Traditionally, before eating it, the youngest child in the family would hide under the table and designate which person would get each piece of the galette.
In France, there are those who collect these charms from galettes des Rois. They’re called "fabophiles." They look for rare charms at garage sales, antique markets, and even on the Internet. Some figurines can even cost up to 2,000 euros!
Now it's time to answer our quiz question!
Do you know what’s special about the galette des Rois made for the President of the French Republic?
For the French President, master pastry chefs or pâtissiers make a galette without a charm, so he can’t be crowned. This tradition dates back to 1975 when President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing was given a giant galette measuring one meter in diameter.
How was this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Do you celebrate Epiphany? What food do people eat on that day?
Please leave a comment telling us at FrenchPod101.com, and we’ll see you next time!