The Epiphany of the Lord, which celebrates the visitation of the three kings, or magi, to the baby Jesus, marks the 12th day of Christmas. In the Catholic tradition, Christmastide stretches from Dec. 25, the Nativity of the Lord, to Jan. 12, the Baptism of the Lord. The Epiphany falls on Jan. 6, though in the United States it is celebrated on the Sunday closest to this date.

Liturgically, the Epiphany of the Lord is celebrated with a Gospel reading from the beginning of the second chapter of Matthew (the only Gospel in which the story appears), telling of the “magi from the east” who “arrived in Jerusalem … to do [Jesus] homage.” They followed “the star that they had seen at its rising … until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.” Filled with joy upon seeing “the child with Mary his mother,” they “offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”

Consider practicing one of these traditions to celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord in your home.

  1. Withhold placing figures of the three kings in your nativity scene until Jan. 6. Instead, place the king figures somewhere else in the house and move them closer to the manger each day leading up to the Epiphany, mimicking the journey of the magi from the east.
  2. Say a “Blessing of the Home and Household” on Epiphany. You can find the one from the book of “Catholic Household Blessings & Prayers” on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s website (usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/sacraments-and-sacramen-tals/sacramentals-blessings/objects/blessing-of-the-home-and-household-on-epiphany.cfm) and can find a video of a Vermont family celebrating this tradition at vermontcatholic.org/marriageandfamily.
  3. Bake a King Cake and share it with family and friends. Typically baked in the shape of a ring, or crown, a King Cake is made of simple ingredients including dried fruit with a small baby figurine hidden inside. As people consume the dessert, they search for the figure in remembrance of the magi’s search for baby Jesus.
  4. Support new parents just like the magi supported the Holy Family. (See “Celebrating the Epiphany by supporting parents” on page 51.)

Post photos of your family celebrating the Epiphany to Facebook or Instagram and tag @DioBurlington to be featured on the Diocese of Burlington’s social media accounts. Vermont Catholic would like to share how you celebrate this holy day and every day of the Christmas season.

—Originally published in the Winter 2019 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.

 

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