The Feast of the Epiphany & The End of the Christmas Season

8:09 AM

www.lifewiththepea.com Today marks the feast of the Epiphany and for many, like myself, the end of the Christmas season. (Boo!)

A lot of people like to end the holiday season January 2nd, when it's back to work, back to school, and back to the daily grind. A lot of Christians, however, continue the celebrations throughout the days of the revelation of the Christ child to the Gentiles through the visit of the three kings. For Western Christians, that day is the 6th of January.


On the eve of the Epiphany it was customary to remove all of the evergreens and burn them in a bonfire whilst celebrating the Twelfth Night - as in the Twelve Days of Christmas - with food, drink, festivities, including a special bread, or king's cake. Inside the cake is placed a special trinket to symbolize the baby Jesus. In some traditions this is a dried bean or pea. In others, it is a small foiled crown or a small baby figure. The person who finds the item is designated "king" or "queen" of the festivities. In Spanish and Latin countries, this day is just as important as Christmas and children enjoy it not only for the delicious cake, but it is the day they receive their presents! The cake itself is similar to an Italian Panettone and is decorated with sweet fruits and nuts. Before modern trade and refrigeration, fresh fruits were extremely difficult to come by, as you can imagine. It was lucky to display these fruits on your wreaths and trees as decoration. On the twelfth night, when the greens were removed, these fruits were consumed, some being placed in the breads. I found a wonderful recipe for a traditional king's cake on the  Lavender & Lovage blog if you are interested in making one yourself.


Image Credit  Lavender & Lovage 

If you are familiar with the William Shakespeare play Twelfth Night you might remember references suck as the pea in the plum cake as well as another traditional English/Tudor part of the celebrations which included role reversals as part of the "Lord of Misrule" where royals became pheasants, servants became kings, and men and women exchanged gender roles - which aided to the ultimate confusion and love triangles in the play. But I digress...Other worldwide celebrations of the holiday include blessings of the water, where, in some countries, a wooden cross is thrown into the water and brave young men (and sometimes women) dive into the icy waters to retrieve the cross. In Ireland, the women are permitted to take the day off and gather in pubs to drink after working tirelessly during the Christmas holiday. Wine is especially consumed on the holiday to commemorate the miracle at Cana. There are also parades and reenactments of the kings held worldwide to celebrate.

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For me, the Epiphany also marks the day I have to day goodbye to our tree and beautiful decorations throughout the house. The garland is all taken down, ornaments carefully wrapped and put away, and my little Christmas Village on the piano, including Ralphie's house from A Christmas Story and the old man burying his leg lamp, are all boxed up in the some ten giant Rubbermaid totes stored in the basement. No more lights to turn out every night. No more spiced cookies (okay, maybe I'll still make some cookies), no more presents and songs and excuses to drink lots of red wine and gorge myself on savory foods. It means I need to get my act back together and start the new year, ful lof new promises, new adventures, and, hopefully, lots of new stories to share.





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Header image credit: http://www.salvemariaregina.info

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1 comments

  1. Great post and thanks for featuring my King Cake too! Karen

    ReplyDelete