I am grateful to have grown up in a church that celebrated the full Christmas season. Epiphany, as well as the messages that came along with it, were always one of my favorite times in that historic building. As an adult, I love it because it is a wonderful reason to keep our home decorated longer with greenery and twinkling lights.
If you didn’t grow up with Epiphany, it’s never too late to add it to your family traditions! I’ve got you covered with six ideas to help you get started.
- Let’s start with the basics, such as when is Epiphany and why does it matter? Epiphany is traditionally celebrated on January 6th, although some Orthodox churches have a calendar that places it later in January. You’ll find different denominations acknowledge it in various ways, from the day the Wise Men arrived in Bethlehem, to the baptism of Jesus as an adult, to the wedding at Cana when Jesus turned water into wine. As a child, I always knew it as Three King’s Day. If you have little ones, it is quite fun to talk about how travel would have been during Biblical times and how long it would have taken the Magi to make the journey.
- The King’s Cake: You’ll find multiple variations of recipes as each country (and sometimes region) has their own take on this delectable dessert. I’m the only one in my family who likes the cream cheese one, which is typically more closely associate with Mardi Gras, so this year I am making a Galette des Rois, a delicious, flaky, almond cake, French in origin. Many cultures hide either a dried bean or a plastic Baby Jesus in the cake, and the goal is to be the lucky one “crowned” for finding the prize in their slice.
- Epiphany pageant: This may be my favorite. The small, country church in which I grew up never had a Christmas pageant … it was always for Epiphany. I loved every moment of it, especially how we used real frankincense and myrrh resin burners. Even once I was in college, I would at least get a last minute call to be a reader. If I close my eyes, I can still picture the inside of church at night, the smells of the essential oils, and the feeling of peace. Now, you may not have time to throw together a “pageant”, but you can wing some stuff out of the dress up bin and tell the Christmas story, easy peasy!
- Paper crowns: these are fun no matter what your age. You can only make one really fancy to go with the winner of the King’s Cake, or everyone can sport a crown! I personally love decorating with as much glitter as possible, but I understand some people think that stuff comes from the fiery pits of hell. If you are glitter-adverse, break out whatever crafty stuff makes you happy.
- Sing some carols: Have you ever really listened to the words of carols? Some of them are quite obviously meant to come after Christmas Day. A clear choice for Epiphany is “We Three Kings.”
- Learn more: If you are homeschoolers (or currently schooling at home), turn it into a history and/or religious studies lesson of who the wise men were, what life would have been like for them, why their gifts were seen as valuable, and any other point you see fit.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. If your family loves craft projects, you’ll find a plethora of ideas on the internet. For more ideas on implementing traditions into modern life, join Old Souls with New Ways.
I hope you can find a way to make Epiphany as special for your family as it is for mine. Remember, if nothing else, it means you get to leave those gorgeous Christmas decorations up just a little longer.
While the lockdown has been hard on all of my children, there has particularly been few activities at all for my youngest. So, in early December, when she asked if we could really roast chestnuts over an open fire, I said, “Absolutely.”
Our fabulous neighbor offered the use of her fire pit, and I already had cast iron skillets we could use. Then the hunt for chestnuts began. I’ve seen them in various grocery stores in past years, but of course, now they were nowhere to be found. Internet to the rescue!
Of course, delivery was also delayed, but that turned out to be a wonderful thing. The nuts came in time for the winter solstice, which also was the night to see the Christmas “star.” Our Boy Scout built the fire for us, and we got to roasting. We sang Christmas carols, watched for the alignment of Jupiter and Saturn, and waved to neighbors who walked by.
Did the chestnuts take a long time to roast? Yep. Did I freeze my tushie off? You bet. Was it all worth it? No doubt in my mind. Seeing the joy on my daughter’s face, hearing her laugh, listening to her discuss astronomy (one of her top interests), and simply spending time together was a beautiful experience. Roasting chestnuts will be one of my favorite 2020 memories, and we will add it to our list of traditions.
**Oh, and by the way, don’t let online searches of “how to roast chestnuts” keep you from trying it. It really was simple. I rinsed the nuts, my husband scored them on the flat side, we threw them in cast iron skillets, then set on the grill over the fire. We stirred them with tongs occasionally. It did take at least half an hour for the first ones to be ready, but I think that had to do with how cold it was outside.**
Have you ever roasted chestnuts or at least eaten them? I would love to hear your story!