One of the more popular features of the celebrations was the twelfth cake. This cake’s recipe was similar to the Christmas cake we’re all familiar with, but it was decorated in a very different way and had a number of traditions associated with it. The cake was highly decorated with icing and had the central feature of a crown made of sugar. In many places, the cake contained a bean. If you took a slice of the cake and found the bean you would act as “King of the Feast” for the rest of the evening. In some parts of Europe, this tradition was more complicated, with china figures hidden in the cake.
In Cornwall, the tradition was different again. According to the Cornish tradition, a wedding ring, thimble and sixpence were hidden in the cake. The person who found the wedding ring would be married within the year, the person who found the thimble would never be married and the person who found the sixpence was thought to die rich.
Sometimes Twelfth Night was known as “Old Christmas” in Cornwall. This was due to the fact that the British calendar was changed in 1752, when it moved forward by eleven days.