By Colleen Pressprich
Epiphany, celebrated on January 6th each year, is also known as the Feast of the Three Kings. It’s the day that we celebrate the arrival of the Wise Men at Bethlehem and the end of the Christmas season.
Here are five easy ways to celebrate this day with your family.
Read the story and learn more.
The story of the Epiphany is found in chapter two of Matthew’s Gospel. Take some time to read the story to your children and discuss the ways that it might be different from what they expected. For example, did anyone notice that the number of the wisemen is not given? Where does the idea that they were kings come from? Let your child’s curiosity guide you deeper and do some research into the history of the traditions.
Chalk your door.
Speaking of traditions, you can celebrate Epiphany by chalking your door. Done as a way of sanctifying the home, the year and the initials traditionally given to the wise men along with the sign of the cross are written in blessed chalk. The pattern for this year (2024) looks as follows:
20 + C + M + B + 24
Blessed chalk is often provided at many parishes during the Christmas season, and if not, you can always bring regular old classroom chalk to your parish priest for a blessing.
Learn about the gifts.
The three gifts listed in Matthew - gold, frankincense, and myrrh - are not the typical gifts brought to celebrate the birth of a child, and in fact, they have very specific and prophetic meanings. Furthermore, all three were valuable.
Gold is a symbol of kingship, and an acknowledgement that this baby, though born in a manger is a king.
Frankincense is an aromatic resin used in incense. In the time of Jesus, frankincense was too expensive to be used anywhere else except in the sacrifice to a deity. The inclusion of this suggests that the wise men understood that Jesus was God.
And finally, myrrh, the least likely of gifts to be brought to a baby, is a precious oil used in embalming. This prophetic gift alludes to the reason for the Incarnation: Jesus’ coming death on the cross.
Make a king cake.
King cakes are traditional pastries for both Epiphany and Lent. They are baked with either little figures or beans inside, and the person that gets a slice with one is the king (or queen) for the day!
Leave out grass for the camels and expect a visit from the kings.
Some families wait until Epiphany to exchange Christmas presents in honor of the gifts brought by the wise men. But even if you have already done your gift opening, the three kings can still visit your home. Perhaps instead of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, they might bring some candy, cookies, or even a small trinket or two. Don’t forget to have your kids leave out grass for the camels!
I hope that these five simple ways to celebrate Epiphany help you to celebrate this beautiful, Biblical feast.