Aylmer’s first fêtes des Rois celebration since Covid-19
Guests gathered for Epiphany at the Centre Aydelu to celebrate their first Fêtes des Rois together in three years since the Covid-19 virus shut down gatherings, January 7, at 7 pm.
The tradition has two roots of origins, one is from the Romans and the second is found in Christianity. Although this event took place on the 7th, it is traditionally celebrated on the 6th of January (12 days after Christmas), when Christians celebrate Epiphany, the arrival of the Three Kings after the birth of Jesus.
This year's event was well attended, with approximately 250 guests and organizers, who convened for the festivities put on by Impératif Francais. Tickets were sold in advance and on site for $39 per adult and $29 for students and children. Guests of all ages were in attendance.
The barn, as the Aydelu Centre is locally referred to, was set up with a large dance floor in the center, rows of tables surrounding the perimeter, and the five-piece folk group Le Grand Portage, with guest member and “calleur” Éric Tapp, at the front. Quebec flags hung from the ceilings and covered the wall behind the band.
At 8 pm, volunteers and the president of the organization, Jean-Paul Perreault greeted guests by microphone to announce the evening’s proceedings.
First up: a “dance quadrille” (square dance) led by the “calleur” (caller), Mr Tapp. Guests were instructed to dance in pairs of twos, fours, sixes, and eights, to the left, right, forward, and backward.
By 10 pm, with the barn perspiring with merriment, guests were invited to return to their seats, where vegetable plates, baguettes and liver pâté were served. A short while later, the band recommenced and guests were again beckoned to the dance floor for round two.
Come 11 pm, the gastronomical centrepiece of the tradition, the Galette des Rois, was served. As explained by Mr Perreault, “each Galette, which is divided into six or eight pieces, depending on the size, has one “porcelaine” (a porcelain figurine). The individual whose piece contains that porcelaine is the winner and is crowned the King or Queen.” However, for this event, which served many Galettes, there were some sixteen people who had found the porcelain figure in their piece. Therefore, to determine the King and Queen, a marble draw was carried out. Ultimately, Stéphane Mukendi and Nicole Keeley were crowned the King and Queen of the Kingdom of Outaouais for the year 2023 and, accordingly, were bestowed with great luck for the coming year.
The Aylmer Bulletin live-streamed the event and the videos can be found on our Facebook page @BulletinAylmer.
Photo: Stéphane Mukendi and Nicole Keeley dance a waltz together after being crowned the King and Queen of the Kingdom of Outaouais for the Fêtes des Rois celebration of 2023.
Photo: Alana Repstock