On January 6th each year, Luxembourgers celebrate Dräikinneksdag, literally three kings day, or the Feast of the Epiphany also know in English tradition as Twelfth Night.

This Christian celebration dates back to the 14th century and commemorates the three kings, Kaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, who traveled from the Orient following the star that led them to the foretold Christ child in Bethlehem. Originally, the festival was a pagan celebration of Light; since about January 6th the lengthening of daylight begins to be noticeable.

Like most holidays the rituals vary from country to country.  At the start of Twelfth Night the Twelfth Night, or Epiphany, or Draikinneksdag cake was eaten. This was a rich cake made with eggs and butter, fruit, nuts, and spices. A dried pea or bean was cooked in the cake. Whoever found it was the King of Misrule for the celebration that followed.


In modern Luxembourg Kings’ Cake (in French ~ la galette des rois) is eaten on Epiphany. It has a flaky top and a dense almond filling called frangipane on the bottom. In modern times a trinket, usually a baby or a king, replaces the bean baked inside the cake, and the cake is accompanied by a golden cardboard crown. Whoever finds the trinket in their slice of cake gets to wear the crown and is “king for a day.”

It seems likely that our Luxembourg ancestors of the immigrant generation,  the Theisen, Kaiser, Lux, and Even families, who lived at Saint Donatus, Iowa, and near Galena, Illinois, celebrated Epiphany in the Luxembourg tradition. Unfortunately, I do not know if, beyond attending Mass, our Luxembourg ancestors, children of the immigrants, continued the draikinneksdag traditions after moving to Adams County.