Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Porcelain Mystery Object Revealed

Chronica Domus
This diminutive drummer boy has a very specific purpose - can you guess what it is?
Photo: Chronica Domus

Well, I must say you are a clever bunch!  Thank you all for playing along in the latest mystery object game.  I can now reveal that the little drummer boy is indeed a vintage French féve.

For those of you that haven't a clue what in the world I'm rattling on about, a féve is a good luck charm or trinket that is baked into a celebratory cake called a Kings Cake, or to use its French name, a Galette de Rois.

Galette de Rois

Kings Cake is traditionally served on Epiphany, January 6, to commemorate the day the Magi Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar bestowed gifts upon the infant Jesus.  In fact, a figure of a baby is often used as a féve in a Galette de Rois.  In New Orleans, Kings Cakes make an appearance in local bakeries anywhere from January 6 right up until Mardi Gras, which happens to fall on February 13 this year.  It is said that he who finds the féve is crowned king for the day and reaps all the benefits of the good luck that comes along with the charm.

Other countries have their own traditions centered around finding lucky trinkets in sweet treats.  Take the British, for example, and the long-held tradition of baking a silver six-penny piece into Christmas puddings.

Ah, there it is, the prized silver sixpence!

Greece and some of the other Balkan countries bake coins into Vasilopita, a cake served at midnight on New Year's Day.  Vasilopita is named in honor of Basil of Caesarea and his famous coin and jewelry cake, baked and distributed to local families.  Here's a link to that story.

No Vasilopita is complete without the addition of a Drachma Euro

The féve I selected to feature in my mystery object post is one of six that have somehow found their way to me.  I believe they were made during the first half of the twentieth century, or possibly earlier judging by their lovely muted colors and traditional forms.  Modern féves tend to be garishly decorated in lurid colors, and many are fashioned after popular cartoon characters.

Apologies to Minion fans but these little googly-eyed féves would be enough to
put me off my cake!

Let me introduce you to my enchanting drummer boy's Lilliputian companions.

This lantern-carrying féve resembles a fisherman from a bygone era ...
Photo: Chronica Domus

... and these peasant women must surely be his shore-side companions
Photo: Chronica Domus

Here's the ship's captain and his young deckhand
Photo: Chronica Domus

How could one fail to be delighted at finding any of these charming fellows peeking from within a slice of cake?

Half a dozen years of good luck
Photo: Chronica Domus

Perhaps you too have had the good fortune of discovering a similar charm in a cake or a pudding.  Do please tell me about it, or of any other similar holiday tradition revolving around the unearthing of such lucky trinkets.

Thank you once again for being such good sports.  I look forward to sharing another mystery object with you in the not-too-distant future.


  1. Hello CD, In my family, all we include inside cakes are calories. My mother is a supreme master at making delicious cakes and flaky pies, but I have always preferred crisp cookies--which she also provides in quantity!

    I thought that the white base was an integral part of the object, so I never would have guessed this, although in all fairness you did foreshadow this mystery object and give us a clue with your Christmas post! You have collected a charming group of them.
    P.S. I bet it was a dentist who invented these traditions.

    1. Hello Jim,

      Your mother sounds as though she keeps her son very happy with all of her baked goods. You must share a favorite recipe of hers one of these days on your blog.

      I'm sorry if the white base I photographed the little drummer boy on misdirected your guess. I did state he was only an inch high but I failed to mention that he was indeed resting on a porcelain stand. However, you are quite right in that I made mention of a Kings Cake in the first post of 2018 (bravo for latching onto that!).

      Oh, and yes, dentists must surely adore féves as much as I do, but for very different reasons.

  2. I love those! So festive! Thanks for the fun reveal.

    1. Hello Jen Lawrence,

      So pleased you enjoyed my little reveal and yes, agreed, féves are a very festive touch to conceal within a celebratory cake. Thanks for playing along.

  3. So interesting! I think Heidi guessed correctly? She is very clever indeed. Those figures are so darling, I do love the colouring. Thanks CD this was a fun game. xx

    1. Hello Dani,

      Yes, Heidi sure did guess correctly, but she wasn't the only one. It seems I have a very smart set of commenters here at CD. So glad you enjoyed playing along. It was fun for me too!

  4. We've never hidden objects in our food, probably because we're a little klutzy and might swallow them;)! It sure is cute. Reminds me of nativity figures, in a way.

  5. CD, CD, Wherefore art thou? I miss you!


Please do leave a comment as I enjoy the dialogue with my readership, thank you.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...