Warning: this post contains some seriously good information for pub quizzes. (That was the hook to make you read on…)
January 6th. Epiphany. Twelfth Night. The twelfth day of Christmas. You get the idea. Basically, it means The End of the festive season. On the sixth of January, you should dismantle your Christmas tree, sling all your decorations into whichever cubby hole you keep them in for the rest of the year, stop eating mince pies, and take the Christmas sherry bottles to the recycling. If you’re like me you’ll heave a sigh of relief as you do so. I like Christmas, but now that the kids are grown up and the magic has, shall we say, diminished, once every five years would do me just fine. Ho ho ho.
So – Epiphany. (We’re getting to the pub quiz info here) Everybody knows the basics – historically, it’s when the Three Kings arrived to view the baby Jesus, bearing gold, frankincense and myrrh. BUT – do you know their names?? I didn’t till I came to live in Switzerland, but you can ask any Swiss child over the age of about two who the Three Kings were and they’ll tell you. And this info does come in useful.
I was doing a quiz in a pub in York recently (not a pub quiz, unfortunately, just a quiz in a pub because I was using their wi fi and it was incredibly s l o w so I needed something to do while waiting) and up popped the middle King who is, of course, King Melchior. The friend I was with was gobsmacked that I knew something so outlandish. (The other Kings are Caspar and Balthasar.)
Here in Switzerland we make quite a thing of Three Kings Day. It’s one of these gratifying traditions where a minimum of effort and expense gets you big fun. All you need is a cake of little buns all joined together, and a golden paper crown. Some purists make their own but I get ours from the local bakery, and the crown is included in the deal everywhere.
Now comes the fun bit. Everyone breaks off a bun and eats it, either just as it comes or with the addition of whatever they want to smear on it, and – in one of the buns there’s a little plastic King hidden away. Whoever finds it can wear the crown and be King for the day. We have Three Kings Cakes everywhere here – at home, at work, at school, at the gym. With a bit of luck you can be King in several different places. (This is also the main reason why nobody in Switzerland starts their post-festive-season healthier eating regime till January 7th.)
So that’s it. A nice simple end to the excesses of the festive season. I’m looking forward to seeing who’s King for the day in our family – it’ll be my younger son because somehow it always is my younger son; I’m sure he has it fixed.
Have a good ‘Dreikönigstag’! (And now you can be just that bit more confident at the next pub quiz!)