Happy Epiphany!  Happy Three Kings Day!

The Twelve Days of Christmas lead up to the celebration of Epiphany. This day actually marks the beginning of the season of Epiphanytide, known as the Octave of Epiphany, and runs from January 6-13. It is included liturgically in the Christmas Season, although these dates can vary on different calendars. Epiphany is the celebration of the arrival of the Three Kings to visit the Christ child. They came bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. It is considered to be a “celebration of revelation” as it is the day Jesus is revealed to the world. As the Christmas season ends, the faithful are called to go out into the darkness and witness to the light of the Christ child.

The Three Kings of Epiphany

This is considered to be the traditional day on which to take down Christmas decorations, although some have already this done on Twelfth Night. There are others, however, whose traditions dictate keeping decorations up until Candlemas on February 2, which is the Feast of the Purification and the Feast of the Presentation.

Epiphany celebrations hold some wonderful traditions. This is the day that many enjoy a King’s Cake which was discussed on Twelfth Night. One variation on the King’s Cake that is served on Epiphany is to put a small figurine of the Baby Jesus into the bottom of the cake. The person who receives the piece with the Baby Jesus in it is considered “King or Queen of the Day” and is the one who is supposed to hold a party or at least purchase the next King’s Cake. King’s Cakes are also a tradition of Mardi Gras which officially launches its season on Epiphany with parties held every Sunday until the Tuesday before Lent. King’s Cakes are often decorated with the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green, and gold. Purple standing for justice, green for faith, and gold for power.

Epiphany is also time for the traditional blessing of one’s home for the upcoming year which dates from the Middle Ages. The blessing is usually done by the head of the household. The present year and the letters “GMB” are written above the door in chalk and a prayer of blessing follows. They would be written for 2017: “20 + G + M + B + 17”. The letters stand for the three Wise Men who followed the star: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. It is also popularly believed the first letters of each word stands also for the Latin phrase “Christus mansionem benedicat” which means “May Christ bless this house”. The “+” signs represent the cross. This is a wonderful activity to do as a familyas a reminder of love and grace abiding in the home. While the chalk eventually does fade– the blessing remains.

Happy Three Kings Day!

Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand!

~An Old Irish Blessing~

Marian McCoy Boveri


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