Saturday, January 05, 2013

Family celebrations of the liturgical year: Epiphany

In keeping with my desire to do more family activities for the liturgical year, I have been investigating Epiphany. First some things I have learned for those who might not be as familiar with the church calendar. As I have mentioned before, the church year begins with Advent which is comprised of the four Sundays before Christmas. It is a time of preparation, fasting, and repentance which is not entirely the way our modern culture has come to celebrate the lead-up to Christmas. Then as far as the church historical is concerned, there are 12 days of Christmas celebration, with the first being Christmas day itself and the last being Epiphany, the 12th day after Christmas. (Hence, the song, The Twelve Days of Christmas.) Epiphany is the traditional day which marks the visit of the Magi to the Baby Jesus.

Of course, if I had really wanted to start this right, I would have done more research at the beginning of Advent. It might have changed slightly the way I ordered our Christmas activities. There is a lot to be said for saving a lot of the bigger Christmas activities for the period right after Christmas. It is a vacation period anyway, it is after the major celebration so there is more of a relaxed atmosphere, and it would be kind of fun to see Christmas as a kick-off to celebration rather as a culmination. I'm going to have to think about this for next year.

But, we can still get in the game for Epiphany. I've been doing some research and have turned up a couple of interesting ideas. Since it is celebrating the arrival of the Magi with their gifts, gift-giving has been associated with it. Well, I'm pretty gift-givinged-out, so I think we'll skip that. It is also traditional to make what is called a Three Kings Cake. It is a yeast raised cake and has dried fruit embedded in the top. We'll try it and I'll let you know how it turns out. The other idea I found is that the tradition in Europe was to use Epiphany as a time to bless your house. The family would move through each room of the house and the father would say a blessings and the youngest child would carry the Holy Water. Well, I don't have any Holy Water, but I love the idea of turning over each and every room of the house to God. It seems to me to be a great way to begin the year and a wonderful and tangible reminder of who really owns the home we live in.

It has now taken me six hours to write this post because we had a little interruption to life this morning. Gretel, in her racing around the back yard, somehow snagged her skin on something... we have no idea what... and managed to rip a huge piece of skin off her side. Not pretty and the kind of injury which had J. and I reaching for our coats almost immediately to take her to Animal 911. That is where she is now. They gave her some pain medication and will have to put her under in order to do the suturing. She should be able to come home today but they haven't called yet. The tech specifically told us that no news from them is good news, so I'm assuming everything is fine, they are just swamped. Poor puppy.


Kelly said...

We try to keep the 12 days of Christmas by keeping all of the decorations up until Epiphany, and I usually make sure we do another Christmas activity or two. I will often take advantage of the after Christmas sales to get us some Christmas craft or gingerbread house kits.

On Epiphany Sunday, we take the decorations down after Mass. In the evening, the children make paper crowns to wear while I'm making Chicken a la king for supper. King cake always ended up being too complicated for me, so I make a cake in a bundt pan, which looks crown shaped. We ice with yellow (golden) frosting and add sprinkles for jewels. I slip in a gold dollar coin per child while it is baking.

My husband and I never did any of these things growing up, but Epiphany has become one of my children's favorite holidays!

Ann said...

Epiphany's a big deal in the Episcopal church. All the stuff about the three Wise Men or three kings is worth researching...plenty of good music associated with this occasion as well. Additionally, you can buy frankincense and myrhh fragrances from soap companies, and make "king-scented" soaps to represent the gifts to the Christ Child. Not sure what you'd put into a third cake of soap to represent gold, but something will work...

The Sunday after Epiphany traditionally celebrates the baptism of Christ--another good activity-provider for kids.

Ann said...

We were Episcopalians for many years and Epiphany is a big celebration! Our church did a big procession with the three kings and kings cake was served after. There were three items hidden in the cake (a ring, a dollar coin, and a thimble) and they each had significance for the person who found them--including determining who would make the kings cake the next year! Lots of liturgical traditions in the Episcopal church--you will find more info there.

I hope your puppy is okay!

LawMommy said...

And all the Episcopalians chime in for Ephiphany! (To be 100% truthful, we are currently attending the UCC Church that is 8 minutes from our house because it has a 10:40 service (and is 8 minutes from our house.) But I still think of myself as Episcopalian.)

We never take down the decorations until January 6. (I actually stopped reading another blogger last year because on December 26 she said that she had packed up the Christmas tree and decorations by 5:00 PM on Christmas day. There were a number of other things leading up to that moment, but in that moment, I dropped that blog from my google reader because I was so frustrated that she was so missing the point of the Christmas season.)

Anyway, I dislike fruit cake, but I do like butter and cinnamon, so I like this recipe for an easy king cake:,1841,151162-249201,00.html

The best king cake I've ever had was in France, and it was called gallete du rois and it had a flaky crust and was filled with an almond cream. It was amazing, I've never had anything like it in the States.

I hope Gretel is okay.

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