I have trouble understanding those who take down the tree the day after Christmas. One sweet friend, who likes for her decorations to be down before the start of the New Year, recently told me, “I’m just ready for it to be gone.”
I am not ready, friends.
The splashes of red around my house fill me with untold joy.
The glimpses of the Nativity with solemn gratitude.
All the presents have been opened; the feasts well-attended…but we’ve yet to reach the Christ child.
The twelve days of Christmas are not over.
Fellow sojourners, we journey to January sixth, the day of Epiphany on the church calendar. The day tradition holds that the Magi arrived in Bethlehem. The day we celebrate the incarnation of Christ.
Our culture holds little pomp for this humble day. My Presbyterian calendar marks it, but our traditions rarely recognize it. Curious, I began exploring how some other cultures observe this hallowed day. From Wikipedia to personal blogs, it’s quite a tale.
I discovered some interesting traditions.
In Bolivia, for instance, on the night before the Feast of Epiphany, children set out their shoes with letters in them for the Magi.
In Puerto Rico On January 5th, the feast of Epiphany’s Eve, children place water and grass under their beds for the Three Kings’ camels. The Three Kings leave presents under the bed after the camels eat the grass.
Children in Germany go from house to house on Epiphany eve, singing carols and writing the initials of the Magi in chalk (KMB–tradition holds the names of the three kings as Kaspar, Melchior and Balthasar), near the entrance of each home. The festive Dreikonigskuchen or Three Kings Cake is also served that night to celebrate the occasion.
Children in Spain fill their shoes with grain for horses of these traveling kings to eat . The shoes are then placed on balconies or by the front door on Epiphany Eve. They find their shoes filled with cookies, sweets or gifts the next day.
Here, I am told that “Some Christian cultures, especially those of Latin America and some in Europe, extend the season to as many as forty days, ending on Candlemas (February 2).”
Imagine. Husband would really complain if I left my splashes of red up that long!
Dictionary. com defines it as “a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.”
That’s what the Feast of Epiphany celebrates. The realization that Christ incarnate is among us. God With Us. Emmanuel.
We miss the wonder in that, I think, when we gloss over Epiphany. The beauty of Christmas is lost without it.
Like the kings of old, I seek him. My journey toward Christ continues.
Epiphany happens every day when I carry Christmas in my heart.
I’m a morning person and happiest in a place with no walls. Give me a bed of grass and a blanket-sky and I will dream deep in wonder. But a good story takes me to this place too. And a poem? Even better. You can always find me here. Or connect with me on on facebook, twitter, or pinterest.