Preparing for the Feast of the Epiphany

January 6 is the Twelfth Day after Christmas, the traditional day on which Catholic Christians celebrate the Epiphany.

On this night the Three Kings were led by a star to Bethlehem to the crib side of the Christ Child, where they presented gifts to him of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  It’s called the “Epiphany” because it marks the night when Christ’s birth was revealed to the Gentiles (while December 25th marks its revelation to Israel).   In the U.S., the Feast has been moved to the Sunday following the 6th, so this year it falls on Sunday the 8th.  [1/5/11 CorrectionAfter posting this article, I learned that in the U.S. the Feast of the Epiphany is in fact celebrated on the Sunday between January 2 and 8, not on the Sunday following the 6th.  Of course, this year it’s the 8th in either case.]

In our house, Epiphany is usually the day we take down our tree and decorations.  (I hope our tree makes it this year.  It’s looking pretty parched.)  Our spaces look strangely bare after all the colors of Christmas are packed away, but I also appreciate the process of wrapping up our special ornaments, packing away our dancing Santa, and vacuuming up the hundreds of pine needles hiding under the t.v. stand!

But the Feast of the Epiphany also deserves its own celebration.  Here a few ideas for making Epiphany a special day in addition to a tidy one!

Story Time:

Here a few beautiful selections to read during family story hour.

The Last Straw (Thury):  The journey of the 3 wise men told from the perspective a camel who is supposed to guide them to their destination.  Beautiful illustrations.  Available through Amazon or libraries.

The Story of the Three Wise Kings (DePaola):  My children love the illustrations in all of DePaola’s books, and this one is no exception.  I found my copy at the library.

Family Tea:

King’s Cake:  This year I’m planning to bake a “King’s Cake” for the Feast of the Epiphany.  There are tons of recipes on-line — some of them very complex — but you can bake any cake you want.

The special touch is to bake a bean into the cake (wrapped in foil).  The person who finds the bean is king (or queen) for the night!  We’re going to make a special crown for our king/queen.  I read a variation on one website suggesting you include THREE beans representing the 3 Kings – awesome idea.  The trouble in my house is that I have FOUR kids, so one child would be left out.  Then there would be sadness and tears.  So in our house:  one bean.

Typically the crowned king is treated very specially during the night and gets to boss around her subjects . . . I’ll let you know how it goes!

Lamb’s Wool:  Nope, this isn’t the fuzzy stuff you knit with.  It’s a special Epiphany drink made from apples and cider – either hard cider or regular ol’ cider.  We will make both!  Here’s a recipe to get started, but I plan to experiment with the ingredients until I find a taste we all like.  I tend not to be a fan of ales but I’m looking forward to trying Lamb’s Wool.


O God, Who by the guidance of a star did this day reveal your only-begotten Son
to the Gentiles, mercifully grant that we, who know you now by faith, may be so
led as to behold with our eyes the beauty of your majesty. Through the same
Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the
Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

Partridge in a Pear Tree

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