I made a King Cake (from scratch, mind you!) for my colleagues on our first day back at school (January 7). A pecan nut was substituted for the baby. We had done this little ritual last year, and everyone remembered how traumatized one of my male colleagues was when he thought he had to "bake" a King Cake for the next gathering, not "bring" one. Said colleague wouldn't touch this year's cake, and strangely enough, the last piece of cake was the one with the baby (not that I'm accusing anyone of cheating...)
It seems that Austrians do not enter into the spirit of King Cake like we do. Instead, they serve Faschingskrapfen, which are big, fluffy jelly donuts filled with apricot jam and covered with powdered sugar. I've eaten about eight in the past two days, and if I never eat another one it will be too soon.
We served King Cake at a small, impromptu gathering last week. In the meantime, my parents had sent a box of Mardi Gras beads, which really helped us get into the holiday mood!
In Austria, it is traditional to dress in costume for Fasching. We had a costume ball at school on February 13, dressed in costume for dance class the next week (see below), then went Eisstockschiessen (and barhopping) the next weekend. The Usual Suspects