In New Orleans, king cake season officially begins on January 6th, the Epiphany, and is kicked off with a Twelfth Night Party. These gatherings always feature the signature ring-shaped, sugar-coated (and sometimes filled) yeast bread—and they continue through Mardi Gras, which marks the last day of excess before Lent. Tradition dictates that you hide a small plastic baby, representing the baby Jesus, in the cake after it’s baked and before slathering on the icing. The partygoer who gets the lucky slice is then crowned royalty for the occasion—and must provide the king cake for the next party. Look for miniature plastic babies in your local craft store (the baby shower aisle is usually a good bet), or order a plastic king cake baby online.