What is a King Cake?
"King Cakes are a vibrant part of the Mardi Gras tradition in New Orleans.
As part of New Orleans's Christian faith, the coming of the wise men bearing gifts to the Christ Child is celebrated twelve days after Christmas. We refer to this as the Feast of the Epiphany, or Little Christmas on the Twelfth Night. This is a time of celebration, exchanging gifts and feasting. Today, the tradition continues as people all over the world gather for festive Twelfth Night celebrations. A popular custom was and still is the baking of a special cake in honor of the three kings, called 'A King's Cake.'
Inside every king cake is a tiny baby (generally plastic now, but sometimes this baby might be made of porcelain or even gold). The tradition of having King Cake Parties has evolved over time, and the person who receives the slice of cake with the baby is asked to continue the festivities by hosting the next King Cake party.
Originally, king cakes were a simple ring of dough with a small amount of decoration. Today's king cakes are much more festive. After the rich Danish dough is braided and baked, the "baby" is inserted. The top of the ring or oval cake is then covered with delicious sugar toppings in the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold.
In more recent years, some bakeries have been creative with stuffing and topping their cakes with different flavors of cream cheese and fruit fillings.
Jan. 6, the Twelfth Night after Christmas, is the day our Mardi Gras season, hence king cake season, begins. Mardi Gras Day, also known as Fat Tuesday, is always 47 days prior to Easter Sunday (the day before Ash Wednesday)." - From: http://www.mardigrasneworleans.com/kingcakes.html
For more information about Mardi Gras, you can visit the website listed above. :) Instead of posting pictures individually, I decided that it would save space to make a slide show. Enjoy!