Sunday, February 19, 2012
On Epiphany (celebrating the three wise men visiting Jesus) in our home, the children wake up to find three small gifts on the breakfast table: a gold gift (something homemade), a frankincense gift (something religious), and a myrrh gift (something for the body). Well, seeing as this mama has at least one hand full of baby nearly 24 hours a day, making something homemade with just one hand was not quite do-able for me. So... for their gold gift, the girls got some saint bracelets (similar to these) that a sweet lady at our parish got for them at a cathedral she had visited! Their frankincense gift was a new DVD - a movie about St. Bernadette, who saw a vision of Mary in Lourdes, France. We just celebrated the feasts of Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Bernadette this past week (since it's February already!). The myrrh gift was really cool, I thought... a bar of soap I got from Etsy called "Three Kings Soap." It is made and sold by Swan Mountain Soaps (so I did work in a bit of "homemade," even though it wasn't by me!), who I found by chance when perusing a list of pro-life Etsy shops! I also got my brother some shaving soap from them. I would link to it, but the site is down right now. But the soap has swirls of gold in it and is scented with either frankincense or myrrh (or both; I can't remember)... so neat!
If you click on the photo, you can see the gold swirls better!
We do this Epiphany celebration on the morning of January 6, although the Church in the United States has moved the feast to the following Sunday. We have been having "Gifts of the Magi Bread" (I make ours with whole wheat flour and omit the cherries) for breakfast for the past few years - yum! Like the gifts brought by he magi, this bread is full of sweet treasures: chocolate chips, banana, mandarin oranges, coconut, almonds... yum!! And especially delicious with my Irish breakfast tea!
In some countries, children receive their gifts on Epiphany. Some areas have legends that the gifts are brought by Old Befana or Babushka, who was looking for the Christ Child to bring him gifts along with the wise men and never found him, so she still roams the world every Epiphany eve, leaving gifts for all children just in case one of them is Jesus. So my kids seem to think she's come to our house since we've read the stories, although I think they are just pretending (particularly the almost seven year old). But it's fun!
This year on the Sunday after the 6th, we had an Epiphany party with some friends! We did this a couple years ago as well. I made a "king cake," which was a walnut butter rum cake shaped like a "crown" by being baked in a bundt pan. I'd also picked up this box of dark chocolate star cookies from Trader Joe's right after Thanksgiving, thinking the stars were perfect for Epiphany! And oh, those were some yummy cookies... I love dark chocolate and probably ate most of them myself!
The kids decorated crowns and colored pictures of the three kings offering gifts to baby Jesus. My friend Beth and I read them some books: The Last Straw and The Legend of Old Befana. We might have read The Story of Three Wise Kings too; I can' remember. Caroline, Cecilia, and their friend Brianna are reading Strega Nona's Gift, a new story that covers St. Nicholas Day (December 6) through Epiphany. We got most of these from the library. The kids also went from room to room and searched for the Baby Jesus (played by Lucy), returning home another way so they could avoid King Herod (Chris)!
After dinner - we had ham, potato salad, fruit, and some really yummy crock pot baked beans that Beth made - it was time for dessert. In years past, I have put a little plastic baby inside the cake for somebody to find in their slice. I bought a package of six of them a few years ago in the cake decorating section of a craft store, but I haven't seen them since. So this year, I cut a few slits in the cake and inserted three chocolate coins. Brianna and Leah found the first two, making them "kings" of the party. The third king ended up being Alex, who was eating his cake very slowly, as all the kids crowded around, waiting for him to find the coin. Turns out he'd apparently eaten it on the first bite because we never saw it, but we knew he took a slice that had a coin in it. It was so funny because his dad kept asking if he had the coin, and he said no, and ten if his dad said "Oh, you don't have the coin," he'd say, "Yes I do!"
We had a fun Epiphany this year!!