Mardi Gras season begins, and the Elks of Donaldsonville celebrate

Darian Graivshark
Elk members gathering around the king cake table.

The Twelfth Night can date back as far as Medieval Europe. It is a festival celebrated on the twelfth day of the Christmas season.

The date is usually either January 5 or 6, and it marks the end of the Christmas season. Then, the beginning of the epiphany.

Epiphany is a Christian holiday that is also know as the Three Kings Day. It represents the day that the three wise men brought newborn baby Jesus gifts to the manger.

Traditions of the twelfth night include consuming wassail punch, or a drink mixed with juices and spices, and wassailing, which is similar to caroling. Spain, France, England, Ireland, and America are a few places that these traditions have been held. The most popular tradition however, is the baking and consuming of king cakes.

For the English and French, their king cakes included a bean and a pea. Whoever received the bean in a piece of the king cake was the king, and whoever received the pea was the queen for the night.

Today, king cakes include a hidden, plastic babydoll instead of a bean and a pea. New Orleanians gather with friends to have a weekly king cake party. The guest who would find the babydoll in a piece was chosen as the candidate to bring the king cake for the next party.

On January 6, the Elks in Donaldsonville celebrated the twelfth day with their own king cake party. Members brought king cakes to share and eat. Some were filled with cream cheese, blackberry jelly, caramel, or were original plain. There was even a taco king cake, which is available to order at Maw Maw Tootsies Bruncheria.

Before the event really began, some members spoke to the guests.

"I love all of you, and we need to focus on spreading that love," John Beck Sr. said. "I'm a member of 50 years now, and it has been wonderful to see how much we have grown. It is our job to show the community what we have to offer, and that we are family. That's what makes the Elks something so special."

Lee Melancon organized the Twelfth Night king cake party.

"This is a new tradition for us, and I'm glad many of you could join us today," Melancon said. "I do hope that we have three times the people here at next years celebration, and that this continues to grow."

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