Six ways to celebrate Epiphany
Epiphany, celebrated Jan. 6, is a special holiday that concludes the Christmas season of honoring God’s gift of love to mankind. Epiphany commemorates the arrival of the wise men to pay homage to Christ Jesus, as recorded in Matthew’s account of the birth of Jesus.
The word epiphany means manifestation; this holiday reminds us that God showed himself to us in the form of his son Jesus. Because the magi were not Jewish, the occasion also commemorates God’s love and salvation for all people, Jews as well as Gentiles.
The period between Christmas and Epiphany has been called the original 12 days of Christmas. In some cultures, Christians wait until Epiphany to give gifts, imitating the gifts the wise men gave to the Christ Child. If you’d like to extend your family’s Christmas celebration to include Epiphany, here are some ideas for doing so.
- Save one Christmas present for each family member to open on Epiphany. These gifts represent the gifts that the Magi gave to Jesus when they found him. Choose one family member to dress up as one of the wise men to distribute the gifts. Let other family members help the wise man don royal attire—a bathrobe or bath towel cape and a crown made of construction paper.
- Start the tradition of giving spiritual gifts on Epiphany. Make cards or slips of paper with one Christian virtue such as love, patience, faithfulness or kindness written on each. Without being able to see what is on the cards, each family member draws a spiritual gift to nurture and work on during the coming year.
- As part of the day’s festivities, make a special cake with a surprise such as a dried bean or nut baked inside. You can also use a small trinket that can withstand baking but does not present a choking hazard. The family member who finds the surprise is king for the rest of the day. In addition to any extra privileges you may choose, give the king the honor of offering a special prayer of blessing for the whole family.
- Host an Epiphany party. As part of your celebration, play a game in which someone hides a small baby doll somewhere in the house. All of the guests are wise men except for one who plays the role of King Herod. The object of the game is for one of the wise men to find the baby Jesus before Herod does. At the end of the party, ask everyone to go home by another route just as the wise men did to elude King Herod.
- During the evening of Epiphany, spend time together outside gazing at the stars. Ask the children to point out stars they think look like the star the wise men followed. Talk about the excitement and joy the wise men must have felt when the star they were following finally stopped over Jesus’ house.
- If your family uses an Advent wreath with a Christ candle, light the Christ candle during the evening meal on each of the 12 days from Christmas until Epiphany. Let the light of the candle remind you that Jesus is the light of the world and that without him, we would be in darkness.
Taken from Celebrate Simply © 2006 by Nancy Twigg. Published by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, Mich. Used by permission of the publisher.All rights reserved.