2016-12-29 / From The Garden

Celebrate Three Kings Day en Français

By James Merolla


The person who receives the piece with the fève (a small object that is placed in the galette des rois) is crowned king or queen. The person who receives the piece with the fève (a small object that is placed in the galette des rois) is crowned king or queen. When the Magi brought gifts to the Christ child, they celebrated in spirit and likely in Hebrew. But stables offered limited catering, so sparkling beverages and hors d’oeuvres weren’t on the menu that first Christmas day.

Neither was French.

The Alliance Française of Newport (AFN) fills in that 2,000-year gap when the group celebrates La Fête des Rois (Three Kings Day) on Sunday, Jan. 8, at The French Confection, 72 East Main Road, Middletown, from 2-4 p.m.

A French bistro buffet will be served in a charming atmosphere with a cozy fire in the fireplace. The menu includes soup, quiches, salad, cheeses, baguettes and the traditional galette.

La Fête des Rois – the celebration of the Three Wise Men, or Magi – is traditionally held in France on the first Sunday of the new year. There are three important elements of the tradition: the galette des rois (a flat pastry about the size of a pizza), the fève (a small object that is placed in the galette des rois), and the crowning of the king or queen.

The fève is discreetly placed in the galette des rois prior to serving. The cake is then cut so that there is a piece for everyone. The person whose slice contains the fève is crowned king or queen for the day. An extra slice (la part des pauvres) is cut as a symbol for those less fortunate and for loved ones who are no longer with us.

Nowadays, the slice is also designated for an unexpected visitor.

“The Alliance Française celebrates French language and culture worldwide. Our Fête des Rois is in keeping with that mission,” said Mary-Gail Smith, AFN president. “I would like to invite people in the area who share that interest to become involved with us. It is not necessary to be fluent in French in order to participate in AFN events. Our programs are well-received.”

The AFN, affiliated with the international Fédération des Alliances Françaises with nearly 1,500 chapters in 138 countries, is dedicated to studying the French language and promoting cultural exchange. Members participate in conversation groups and enjoy activities such as the annual French Film Festival, art gallery and museum events, and lectures on French history and culture.

Native French speakers in AFN are delighted to help beginners and those whose French is a little rusty.

The Newport chapter was established in 1953 by three members, including Suzanne Aubois, who was part of the French Resistance during World War II.

The Fête des Rois celebration is $30 for AFN members and $35 for nonmembers. Reservations are required. Call Mary-Gail Smith at 401- 601-5515 or send an email to afnewport@gmail.com by Dec. 30 to make a reservation.

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