Saint Bernard students bake king cakes for Fat Tuesday


Left to right: Andrew Sweeney, Ben Swalley, Eva Barck and Irena Biedenstein

CULLMAN – Fat Tuesday was in full swing at Saint Bernard Prep School as Father Bede Marcy took his classroom to the Abbey Kitchen for a lesson in making king cakes.

Since the 1800s, New Orleanians have celebrated the beginning of the Carnival Season with a "King's Cake" on Twelfth Night. A small plastic baby is baked in the cake, and the lucky reveler who discovers it is said to have good fortune for the year. The recipient then continues the festivities by having another party and providing a king cake.

Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Carnival, Shrove Tuesday … all refer to the day preceding Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. Lent, the 40 days preceding the celebration of Easter, is a time of fasting and prayer. Christian families, therefore, needed to empty the house of the items from which they would abstain – traditionally, all animal products including meats, eggs, fats and dairy – although fish was permitted. Because of this need to clear out the pantry, from the close of the Christmas season till the beginning of Lent families would gather together to share their foods and celebrate festive meals together. The various names for the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday reflect the various ways that Christian communities mark the last hurrah before Lent.