Friday, January 6, 2017

Seven Activities to Celebrate the Epiphany


Christmas is still not over! Nope! Not yet... Today is the twelfth day of Christmas also known as the Epiphany, Little Christmas or Three Kings Day. The day that commemorates the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child. The traditional date is January 6th but the church will celebrate the Epiphany on the Sunday between January 2th and January 8th. This very special feast has some amazing traditions correlated with it and they certainly can make some lasting memories for your friends and family involved. The Epiphany is celebrated world wide and there are many traditional ways to celebrate and unique ways to celebrate in different countries and cultures. Besides completing your Nativity with the Wise Men, here are seven activities that you can do to celebrate the feast of the Epiphany. 

{ONE}
Chalking the Door

Chalking the Door is a great tradition to start with your families! A traditional way of doing this is to use blessed chalk to write above your home’s doorway:

20 + C + M + B + 17

While you write this above your doorway remember to recite:

The three Wise Men, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar followed the star of God’s Son who became human two thousand and fifteen years ago. May Christ bless our home and remain with us throughout the new year. Amen.

The letters C, M, B have two meanings. They are the initials of the traditional names of the three Magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. They also abbreviate the Latin words Christus Mansionem Benedicat, “May Christ bless the house.” The “+” signs represent the cross and 17 represents the year. 

To bless the chalk prior to "Chalking the Door" recite the following prayer and sprinkle holy water on the chalk:

Loving God, bless this chalk which you have created, that it may be helpful to your people; and grant that through the invocation of your most Holy Name that we who use it in faith to write upon the door of our home the names of your holy ones Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar, may receive health of body and protection of soul for all who dwell in or visit our home; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

{TWO}
Sing Epiphany Songs

Who doesn't love a great karaoke number? There are two songs that are quintessential to celebrate the Epiphany: We Three Kings of Orient Are and the Twelve Days of Christmas. For obvious reasons you can see why these songs are so perfect. It is traditional to sing and celebrate the Epiphany with Christmas music so don't forget to add these songs on your Epiphany play list. Don't know the songs? I have attached the lyrics below so you can sing until your hearts content!

We Three Kings of Orient Are:

We three kings of Orient are,
bearing gifts we traverse afar,
field and fountain, moor and mountain,
following yonder star.

Refrain:
O star of wonder, star of night,
star with royal beauty bright;
westward leading, still proceeding,
guide us to thy perfect light!

Born a King on Bethlehem's plain,
gold I bring to crown him again,
King for ever, ceasing never
Over us all to reign. (Refrain)

Frankincense to offer have I:
incense owns a Deity nigh;
prayer and praising, gladly raising,
worship him, God Most High. (Refrain)

Myrrh is mine; its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
sealed in the stone-cold tomb. (Refrain)

Glorious now behold him arise,
King and God and Sacrifice;
heaven sings, alleluia; 
alleluia the earth replies. (Refrain)

The Twelve Days of Christmas:

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree.
On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me two turtle doves
And a partridge in a pear tree.
On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me three French hens,
Two turtle doves, and a Partridge in a pear tree.
On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a Partridge in a pear tree.
On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me five golden rings,
Four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a Partridge in a pear tree.
On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me six geese a laying,
Five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves
And a Partridge in a pear tree.
On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me seven swans a swimming,
Six geese a laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens,
Two turtle doves and a Partridge in a pear tree.
On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me eight maids a milking,
Seven swans a swimming, six geese a laying, five golden rings, four calling birds,
Three French hens, two turtle doves and a Partridge in a pear tree.
On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids a milking, seven swans a swimming, six geese a laying, five golden rings,
Four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a Partridge in a pear tree.
On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me ten lords a leaping,
Nine ladies dancing, eight maids a milking, seven swans a swimming, six geese a laying,
Five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves
And a Partridge in a pear tree.
On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me eleven pipers piping,
Ten lords a leaping nine ladies dancing, eight maids a milking, seven swans a swimming,
Six geese a laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens,
Two turtle doves and a Partridge in a pear tree.
On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me twelve drummers drumming,
Eleven pipers piping, ten lords a leaping nine ladies dancing, eight maids a milking,
Seven swans a swimming, six geese a laying, five golden rings, four calling birds,
Three French hens, two turtle doves and a Partridge in a pear tree.

{THREE}
The Three Kings Cake

The Three King Cake is a very special treat that can not be forgotten on the Epiphany! It is eaten in honor of the three kings, also known as the Magi or Wise Men. A custom that I really enjoy is when one slice of the King Cake is set aside for God. There are so many different variations of this delicious treat but all have something hidden inside ranging from a plastic baby that represents baby Jesus to chocolate coins. The traditional custom states that whoever finds the baby Jesus or Chocolate Coin must host the party on Candlemas, which falls on February 2nd. I am doing a similar version of this but with cupcakes placed in a circle and a crown as the centerpiece of the presentation. 

I think it would be completely appropriate for you to allow your children to craft some Crowns to wear during the festivities as well.

{FOUR}
Giving Gifts

In several cultures this night is the evening when they receive gifts! In the Spanish culture, children go to bed waiting with anticipation for a visit from the Three Kings. They place snacks for the Kings' camels under their beds or in their shoes near the fireplace on the night of the Epiphany. The next morning, the children awaken to find that the camel snacks are gone and presents are left for them. Sometimes the camels will leave a trail of the hay to lead the children to where their gifts have been placed.

Have you ever heard of Belfana? I think this custom is so amazing because they leave out wine and an orange for Belfana in hope that she will reward them with gifts for good behavior. She is also known to leave coal for the naughty children. The legend states that the Magi invited Belfana to accompany them to visit the Christ Child but she was too busy sweeping her house at the time. She quickly regretted her decision and went out after the Magi, who were all ready far, far ahead of her. She continues her search to this day, riding her broomstick all over the world in search of Jesus. Want to learn more about this legend? Checkout Old Belfana. There is also a song that accompanies Belfana's legend:

La Befana comes at night
In tattered shoes
Dressed in the Roman style
Long live la Befana!

{FIVE}
Decorate With Flowers

Decorating for events is a great way to set the mood of an event. If you are hosting a Twelfth Night Party or a special Epiphany dinner try including an assortment of "Star of Bethlehem" flowers and/or "Mary's Star" flowers. Both are brilliant white flowers that look similar to a star. They would certainly be a great conversational piece for your friends and family. A little less known fact is that there is a legend involving the Magi and a Mary's Star also known as the Ox-Eye Daisy. Legend says that after the Magi followed the Star of Bethlehem into Bethlehem, they stopped because they didn't know where to go. Saint Melchior looked down and saw an Ox-Eye Daisy blooming. He noticed its resemblance to the Star they had followed to Bethlehem and decided to pluck it from the ground. As he did this, the door to the stable where the Holy Family was staying opened, showing the Magi where the Christ Child lay.

{SIX}
Cheers to the Epiphany

What kind of celebration could you enjoy without a special beverage? There are several drinks that I have come across that are encouraged to share on this night. Hot chocolate variations and Cider drinks are all very popular during the feast day, especially since it is Winter and the air has a bite to it most days. A recipe for a drink called Lamb's Wool is a traditional Epiphany drink. I have shared a recipe below:

6 baking apples, cored
2 tablespoons to 1/2 cup brown sugar, depending on sweetness of cider/ale
2 quarts cider, hard cider, ale, or a mixture of cider and ale
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Roast the apples in a baking pan at 450 degrees for around an hour, until they are very soft and bursting open. In a large saucepan, dissolve the sugar a few tablespoons at a time in the liquid of choice, tasting for sweetness. Add the spices. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Squeeze all of the pulp from the apples and discard the skins then fluff the puree with a fork and add to the liquid. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and serve immediately. 

I am sure you could make this for children if you simply substitute the hard cider with a sparkling non alcoholic apple cider served in a mug.

{SEVEN}
Woman's Christmas

So although I am in love with all the previous mentioned activities, the next one is definitely my favorite! The Epiphany also known as 'Nollaig na mBean' or Women's Christmas in Ireland is becoming very popular. On the Epiphany the women get the day off and the men do the cooking and the cleaning! Women gather together to meet up to enjoy tea and cakes while their husbands prepare their homes for the Epiphany. I don't know about you, but I don't think my husband would have the time to pull together a Twelfth Night Party with his crazy schedule but I do think it would be a great new tradition to setup a special time around breakfast or lunch to get together with your close women friends and family for some light refreshments. What do you think? Anyone want to come over for some tea and cakes this Sunday? 

Whether you decide to celebrate the Epiphany tonight, this upcoming Sunday or maybe even both nights, remember to create some family memories and traditions! I would love to hear all about your Epiphany celebrations so please tag me in your Instagram or Facebook pictures or comment below with your activities! I will be sharing details about our Epiphany party this Sunday! Now I have a big question for you:

Do you take down your Christmas decorations after the Epiphany or do you leave them up until Candlemas? 

I am going to start a poll on Facebook so please stop by and give me your vote. I am sharing this with This Ain't the Lyceum for Seven Quick Takes.

Have a Blessed Epiphany and God Bless!

4 comments:

  1. Great ideas! Thank you for sharing these!!

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    1. No problem! I hope you were able to have some fun with these Epiphany activities!

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  2. We love the book Old Befana, and I would love to have a "woman's Christmas." :)

    We intend to take down our decorations after Epiphany, but sometimes...we don't get to it right away. No one complains! :)

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    1. I wish you were closer! We could do a Woman's Christmas together!

      We just took down the inside Christmas decorations but we are having a Wind storm so all the outside stuff is just blowing in the wind right now. We have until Candlemas so no hurry!

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