Sunday, January 3, 2016

January 3: Feast of the Epiphany

Adoration of the Magi
by Vincente Gil


Epiphany or “Twelfth Night” is the day we celebrate the Magi (Wise Men) coming to see Jesus, as told in the Bible. Christians have actually been celebrating this day longer than we’ve been celebrating Christmas! In fact, the tradition of giving gifts used to happen on Epiphany instead of Christmas (and still does, in some places). We heard the Epiphany readings at Mass last Sunday, but today is that actual feast day. 


There are many traditions regarding Epiphany, including caroling, gift giving, putting on plays and more. In some churches, the priest will bless chalk, and each family will get a piece to take home. The head of your family can use the chalk to write, “20 C+M+B 16” over the front door (also over your barn door if you live on a farm with a livestock barn) and say this blessing. The "20" and "16" are the year we are living in. People sometimes say the C+M+B stands for Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, the traditional names of three wise men, but it really stands for "Christus Mansionem Benedictat" (Christ bless this home). 

If you don’t receive chalk at church, you can still make a special dinner, including a Crown Cake. That can be a very traditional recipe with yeast, a short-cut recipe using store-bought puff pastry dough or this easier one for Orange Bundt Cake. Bake a single, whole almond or dry bean in the cake, and whomever gets it is king or queen for the day. You can ice the cake with an orange glaze, sprinkle it with gold sugar sprinkles and decorate it with gumdrops to make it look like a crown. 

All the saints in heaven, pray for us!

More reading for parents:

Catholic CultureCatholic Online