Five family activities to celebrate the Epiphany

Renaissance fresco depicting an Epiphany scene in the Collegiata of San Gimignano, Italy. Photo:jorisvo/Shutterstock.
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The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord is celebrated either on the 12th day after Christmas, Jan. 6, or on the first Sunday after Jan 1.

Below are some ideas you can incorporate into your celebration this year, inspired by some traditional practices.

King’s cake. Photo: AGCuesta/Shutterstock.

Bake a king’s cake

The king’s cake is named in reference to the three Magi. You may have heard of it before in relation to Mardi Gras; however, it is also a very popular traditional food for Christmastime in many places in the world such as France, Belgium, Spain, Latin America, and others. Our friends at Catholic Cuisine have more information here, including a recipe. You can find a recipe for a more cookie-like treat here called three kings cake.

Celebrate Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night gets its name because it occurs on the 12th day after Christmas Eve. It marks the coming of the Epiphany and is generally celebrated the night before Epiphany. Usually this is celebrated by having a special dinner and makes for a great time to have your king’s Cake. Some cultures also use Twelfth Night as a time to take down their Christmas decorations.

Look at stars

Since the Magi followed the Star of Bethlehem to find their way to Jesus’ birthplace, many have found it fitting to take time on Twelfth Night to go out stargazing. Whether you have a telescope or not, this could be a great opportunity to add a nice tradition to your celebration each year. There are a number of theories about what the occurrence of the Star of Bethlehem actually was. Was it a supernatural occurrence? Or can it be linked to the peculiar movements of Jupiter and Venus that occurred circa 2 B.C.?

Door chalking for the Epiphany. Photo: GoneWithTheWind/Shutterstock.

Chalk the door

For the Epiphany, many traditions revolve around putting a chalk equation on the door of your house. The equation is written to be the first two digits of the year, followed by the initials C, M, and B, followed by the last two digits of the year. Each portion is split by plus signs. For this year, the equation would be written as “20 + C + M + B + 18.” The chalking holds two meanings. The C, M, and B, refer to the traditional names of the Magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. The letters also stand for the Latin phrase “Christus mansionem benedicat” which means “May Christ bless the house.” The plus signs represent the cross, and the 20 and 18 simply refer to the year.

Read the story of the Magi

You should take time on the Epiphany to read the Biblical account of the Magi visiting Jesus found in the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. If you have young children, you may alternatively want to buy a copy of a children’s book that recounts the story or find it in a good Catholic children’s Bible. Our friends at Pflaum Publishing Group have the Epiphany Gospel for Liturgy of the Word with Children here.

Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

 Responsorial Psalm, The Epiphany of the Lord

 

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