King cake season is officially underway.

This popular cake is the dessert of choice this time of year as Louisiana prepares for the Mardi Gras holiday.

With a wide variety of flavors and recipes, king cake is one of the signature staples of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast states.

Tracing its roots, king cake goes all the way back to Saturnalia celebrations in the Roman Empire. The Saturnalia holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn and a public banquet.

The king cake was first brought to Louisiana by settlers in 1718 to celebrate Christianity’s Three Kings Day.

Also known as Epiphany or Theophany, Three Kings Day is customarily a Christian feast day that celebrates the revelation of God in his Son as human in Jesus Christ. The observance had its origins in the eastern Christian churches and was a general celebration of the manifestation of the incarnation of Jesus Christ.

A traditional king cake is best described as a cinnamon cake topped with icing and colored sugars. However, many variations and flavors exists as popular new recipes are added and sold in stores.

A small plastic baby is usually hidden somewhere in the cake. Whoever finds the baby is expected to provide the next cake.

While king cake is a part of the culture from East Texas all the way to the Florida Panhandle, it is also popular around this world. In many Spanish speaking countries king cakes are called the “rosca de reyes.”

A Spanish custom which varies from the United States’ is when someone finds the baby in their slice of king cake, it is their responsibility to bring the baby to the nearest church on Feb. 2.

This date is known in Spanish-speaking countries as “día de la candelaria,” which celebrates the presentation of Jesus in the temple.

Cakes celebrating Three Kings Day are also common in places like France, Quebec, and Belgium.

Wherever in the world and for whichever traditions, most would agree, king cake is delicious!