Cakes & Cookies
22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 He took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 I assure you that I won’t drink wine again until that day when I drink it in a new way in God’s kingdom.”
From St. Lucia buns, to the yule log, to Three Kings cake, to fruit cake the season from Advent through Epiphany is full of sweet things. Many of these treats have little symbolism. Some though, are made of specific ingredients and with specific directions so that those baking and enjoying these desserts may find significance in them and be reminded of Christ. Two such delights are Christmas pudding and Three Kings cake. As the name implies, Christmas pudding is an English dessert served on Christmas. These puddings are traditionally made the Sunday before Advent begins and kept through the season to be served on Christmas day. Christmas pudding contains thirteen ingredients, representing Jesus and the twelve apostles. When the ingredients are stirred together it is done from East to West to remember the journey of the Magi coming to visit Jesus. The English Book of Common Prayer even had a special blessing for the day the pudding was made. This was a simple way for an illiterate culture to teach children stories of Jesus. Sometimes a coin would be added to the pudding as a gift from God to the person whose serving contained it.
The Three Kings cake is associated with Epiphany celebrations and is usually a round cake to symbolize the kings who did homage to the baby Jesus. Traditionally, the cake is an orange colored spice cake, which represents the gifts of the magi. Lastly an object is placed inside and the person to find it has obligations, which vary from hosting a party to symbolically taking Jesus to a church, depending on the culture. We do not often think of teaching people the Gospel through food, apart from communion; but these kinds of symbolic sweets give us easy ways to explain to others what we believe. These foods also help us to completely saturate our celebrations with reminders of our reason for celebration.
Stir up; we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may by thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen