Monday, January 04, 2010

Happy Epiphany!

Yesterday, the Catholic Church in the United States celebrated Epiphany, which is the day that we remember the three wise men following the star from the East to worship the baby Jesus. Traditionally, Epiphany is celebrated on the 6th of January, but the U.S. Bishops have moved it to a Sunday. In some cultures, this is the day on which gifts are given, because it is the day that Jesus received the three gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We observed Epiphany last year at home, but not in any big way. This year, we celebrated a bit more!

We held an Epiphany party at our house for a couple of families from our church. I have never even attended an Epiphany party, but I thought it sounded fun to have one nonetheless! We made this big star and I attached it to a dowel rod to be the Star of Bethlehem. Caroline wanted to carry it around and have an "Epiphany Parade" - that was all she talked about for a couple days prior to Sunday! She was so excited to have her friends over to have a parade. After Mass on Sunday morning, she even told Father Paul and her favorite non-relative seminarian about her Epiphany Parade and invited them to come. Neither one could, but it was cute that she was so excited and wanted them to be there, too!

Here's Caroline helping to make the glitter stars that you saw in the first photo, hanging from the light in the dining room. I love that light fixture... it is kind of ugly, but it has been great for hanging things!

I bought a 3D cardboard star from the craft store and then traced it onto white cardstock four times. Then the girls helped me paint the stars with a glue and water mixture, and then we sprinkled on the gold and silver glitter. Good thing we just got a new vacuum cleaner last week!

Before the party, we had our family time Epiphany observance... with a few little gifts for the girls! I didn't go crazy, because goodness knows they received plenty of gifts this Christmas... but another Catholic mom shared this idea a few years back, and I had been wanting to implement it. The idea is that the children receive three small gifts on Epiphany - a "gold" gift (something handmade), a "frankincense" gift (something religious), and a "myrrh" gift (something for the body). So, for the handmade gift, I have been working on these wool felt seals:

I was really happy with how they turned out. They were a bit time-consuming, but the second one was so much easier than the first and went much more quickly (I spent two evenings total on the second seal, start to finish). They are about three or four inches long each and are made from wool felt and stuffed with unspun wool. I used the pattern in the book Feltcraft. They were fun to make... I enjoy sewing things by hand; it is a soothing activity.

Here's an overhead shot of what turned out to be Cecilia's seal... Caroline chose the pink-eyed one and hasn't noticed the flaw on one side of the head when I didn't get it lined up right and had to cut it and sew the cut together to make it line up... I did better the second time!

Here are their gifts, waiting on the table before breakfast on Sunday morning. We have been reading The Legend of Old Befana from the library and also read a similar version of the story called Babouska (from this book) in which a woman is cleaning her house and is too busy with her constant cleaning to come along with the three kings to worship the Christ Child... she decided to search for him too late, and to this day, she still wanders the earth on Epiphany Eve, leaving a gift by each child's bed in hopes that one of them will be the Child Jesus. So, I don't know if Caroline thinks Old Befana really came to our house, but the magic of the story sure is fun!

So here is the gold gift, cinched up in a gold drawstring bag that was formerly full of foil-wrapped chocolate coins, found on the hearth where Santa must have accidentally dropped it while filling stockings, oops!

Here is the frankincense gift: Glory Stories CD for Caroline, and a board book about Mary for Cecilia. I love this book - it has darling illustrations!

And the myrrh gift, a new bottle of body wash/shampoo - the expensive kind that I love but hate to buy. But it lasts such a long time, and the girls often get a bottle of it in their stockings, so it's not that bad when you figure we only go through maybe three bottles a year.

Apparently, I took no photos of Caroline and Cecilia discovering the gifts. perhaps it was because Caroline slept in until 8:00 and we had to be at Mass at 9:30...

Here is our table set up for our Epiphany party in the afternoon. You can click on the photo to see it up close. I didn't take a close-up of the king cake, which doesn't really matter since it was nothing special looks-wise (although I did bake it in the cathedral bundt pan, which I have bad luck with... the cakes often get stuck and rip apart when I remove them from that pan, but by some miracle, it didn't this time)... I thought it kind of looked like a crown, though. It was not a traditional king cake other than being ring-shaped and having a little plastic baby Jesus inside. It was a whole wheat spice cake. We also had star-shaped cheese on crackers, and our friends brought a cheese spread that was shaped like a snowman - cute!! And we had various Christmas teas and Coke, too.

The bigger girls did a crown craft. I cut out crowns from construction paper and put our adhesive-backed sequins along with non-adhesive ones and glue. Caroline and her friends decorated their crowns, and then I read The Story of the Three Wise Kings and We Three Kings aloud to them. The other kids (six others ages 3 and under) enjoyed just playing with blocks and the Noah's ark in the den...

... although Cecilia later decided to make one, too. What big sister does, Cecilia wants to do, too!

Here are the three kings (uh, queens?) wearing their masterpieces!

And the lesser-known little fourth king

Caroline is holding up her baby Jesus from the king cake. Chris said, "People will think it was rigged if our own kid got the piece with the baby!" Actually, the piece with the baby was sitting there on the platter and nearly half of the cake had been taken already, so it was almost like that piece was being avoided... maybe because it was a little large (Caroline couldn't eat the whole piece). She was excited to have found the baby Jesus and today, I got to hot glue a teensy little diaper on him. Ah, the varied job experiences of a mother. ;)

Caroline convinced her friends to join in the parade. They marched around, pretending to follow the star.

They each took a turn carrying the star. They also got a baby doll to be Jesus and Caroline was crawling as a camel with Brianna pretending to ride on her back at one point... it was very true to the story, ha ha!

And this photo shows me how cluttered-looking this view of my house is. Wow. Oh well. The top of the refrigerator is a perfect junk-storage place, right?

Caroline's friends were sweet to participate in the parading as long as they did... she was heard to beg them to do it again later, but they had already been parading for quite a while!

And probably to Chris's relief, I didn't make everybody gather 'round and sing We Three Kings, although Caroline did want to sing a couple verses of it with me after reading the book! We had a great time hanging out with good friends and will have to try to celebrate this way more often!

To those who celebrate it on the 6th, have a happy Epiphany in a couple days! We will be having Gifts of the Magi bread for breakfast on Wednesday, just to prolong the celebrating a bit more! ;)


mel said...

Oh! How cute, I love the seals! I put that book on my wish list. It would make a great birthday gift for Maria with some nice wool felts.

Erin said...

The patterns in the book are great... at least, they look great, and the seal worked. There is a St. Nicholas pattern, too! I do think the instructions in the book are sorely lacking... but if you can do a simple in and out type stitch, then it is okay that the directions aren't too detailed. For example, it said, "embroider on the eyes and whiskers." There was a photo... and I always thought of embroidery as being different than what I did to attach the beads and the whiskers, although I did use embroidery thread to make the whiskers.

ViolinMama said...

Did I not comment? This looks amazing! What a celebration and what a great idea to bring this all alive!

I'm so impressed. We just did a crown cake this morning (with a reading of the bible story the night before) and had side items for breakfast that were gold in color too :) The kings did drop by some little things, but I LOVE your idea of the gold, homemade, and small...

God Bless! Merry Christmas!

Tiny Actions said...

Looks like all the girls had so much fun! Those seals are adorable. I bet the girls liked them.