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By: Deacon Marques Silva

On the twelfth-day of Christmas, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Epiphany (the January 6 feast has been transferred to the Second Sunday after Christmas). Hugo_van_der_Goes_-_The_Adoration_of_the_Kings_(Monforte_Altar)_-_Google_Art_ProjectThe celebration of the Epiphany pre-dates the celebration of Solemnity of the Incarnation.While we do honor the three Magi’s adoration of the Christ-child, it originally celebrated the three manifestations of the Lord’s divinity: Christ’s birth, adoration of the Magi, and the Baptism of our Lord. There are a number of traditions families can engage in to celebrate the day:

 

Blessing of the Home

Blessing the home is a time honored tradition using chalk blessed by your parish priest or deacon. Just ask, he will be happy assist. The tradition is to mark the main entrance door with the year and with the inscription CMB; the initials of the three Magi by legend: Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. The inscription also stands for Christus Mansionem Benedicat, which means “Christ, bless this home.” The popular form the inscription takes is 20+C+M+B+14. Traditionally, it remains over the doorway until Pentecost.

 

Epiphany Cake

A cultural custom, especially in Europe, is the baking of an Epiphany cake containing a trinket or bean (sometimes two). The one who finds it is King or Queen for the day. This tradition is also related to the Mardi Gras cake. The Women for Faith & Family blog recounts the history:

A common custom in many cultures, is the Epiphany cake containing a trinket or bean, the person who finds it in his piece becoming the king of the feast. Sometimes there are two trinkets, or one bean and one pea: one for a king and one for a queen. In the royal courts of the later Middle Ages, these customs were very popular. Some believe these celebrations derived from pagan Roman customs associated with Saturnalia, which fell at around the same time as Christmas. If so, it can be seen as an example of “inculturation”, or transforming pre-Christian customs and practices by giving them Christian significance. The Roman theme of the lordship of the feast was easily shifted to the Epiphany theme of kingship: that of Christ himself and of the Magi, or “Three Kings.”

 

Different parts of Europe have different traditional recipes for the Epiphany cake — from the almond-paste-filled pastry, the French “galette de Rois” topped by golden paper crown, to the British fruit-filled, iced and layered confection. Some bakeries feature these cakes during the holiday season.

I pray that that you have a festive day and enjoy the last week of Christmastime. Also, eat something spicy (another tradition) today in honor of the Magi from the East.

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By: Kathleen Yacharn

epiphanyThis Sunday marks the twelfth day of the Christmas season, the Solemnity of the Epiphany. To be honest, as a child I only knew this as ‘Three King’s Day,’ or ‘that other day I put my shoe out at night and get candy, toys, and saint books the next morning.’ This holy day, though, is more than just a feast day, it is a holy day of obligation (however, in some countries, such as ours, the celebration has been moved to Sunday). Epiphany means ‘manifestation’ or ‘revelation’ and marks the day that the Three Kings came to worship the newborn Christ. Pope Benedict spoke of the significance of this date, saying in his Epiphany homily of 2012, “[t]he wise men from the East lead the way. They open up the path of the Gentiles to Christ”.  What an important day this truly is! From the very beginning of his life on earth, God makes it clear that our Savior hasn’t come only for His chosen people, the Jews, but for all people.

Nevertheless, the importance of the Epiphany goes unrecognized by many of us. Since it is celebrated after Christmas and the New Year, in the midst of daily life returning to its bustling normalcy after a brief respite, the significance of this feast day can be all too easily be overlooked. This holy day needs to be recovered by Catholics as much more than just a reason for a candy-laden shoe or the last day for die-hards to take down their Christmas tree.

In other parts of the world, Epiphany has a rich tradition and is almost as joyous as Christmas. If you are Greek, you may be familiar with young men diving into freezing cold waters to retrieve a sunken crucifix in honor of Christ’s own Baptism. Eastern Orthodox churches hold Epiphany in such a high esteem that it is called the Feast of the Theophany and is the subject of parades and festivals in honor of God’s revelation to us.

This isn’t to say that you should dive into any frigid waters, but instead, that we should all try to recognize more fully the revelation of the Epiphany, one of joy and thanks to Christ. Let’s try to add a small devotion or new tradition to praise the many miraculous events that Epiphany honors. The USSCB has an Epiphany Blessing of Homes available online that would be a great way to celebrate this day. Does your family already have an Epiphany tradition? What does this day mean to you as a Catholic?

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