Epiphany in the Home
Epiphany is January 6th, though often observed in church on the Sunday nearest. Epiphany means “manifestation” and celebrates the revelation that Jesus is truly God who came for all the world. This theme is rooted in the biblical stories of the coming of the Magi, Jesus’ baptism, the wedding at Cana and the many accounts of healing, all these stories reveal Jesus as the Messiah. Jesus is the light of the world!
The season following Epiphany is about how we receive God’s promise and gifts; how we live in God’s light. For the people who walked in darkness became people of light. It is a time to share God’s wonderful gifts!
Epiphany is time for real, joyous celebration.
Stars and candles symbolize the light Jesus brings to the world. Crowns remind us of the magi.
Have an Epiphany cake for dessert on Twelfth Night. The traditional cake is spice, but our family preferred the Pillsbury chocolate-macaroon Bundt cake (no longer available). Use whatever kind of cake your family would enjoy. A Bundt cake resembles a crown; bake it with three foil-wrapped coins (one for each wise man) dropped in equidistantly around the cake, making it likely that one will be found right away. Large gumdrops make jewels on the crown.
Epiphany Eve, Twelfth Night, begins the Epiphany season. It is time to take Christmas decorations down. We leave the tree with just the lights for this last night, to emphasize Jesus as light of the world.
Serve an Epiphany cake—there are many traditional ones. Before baking, drop three foil-wrapped coins into the cake. After the cake is frosted, place a ring of bright red, yellow and orange gumdrops on the top. The gumdrops are the “jewels” on the crown. The first lucky person to find a coin is “King” for the night, leading the procession around the house and excused from any usual chores.
After the meal, because the wise men brought frankincense, light frankincense in an incense burner. Take the incense in procession into every room, with the “King” for the night leading the way. In Austria this means, “Tonight the three kings are coming; we must make them feel welcome.” Incense is a symbol for prayer and someone offers a prayer in each room, asking for the blessing of what we as a family hope to experience there in the coming year: restful sleep, tasty, nourishing food, good conversation, etc.
Chalking the door is another traditional way to make an Epiphany home blessing. The main entrance is marked with the year and C M B this way: 20+C+M+B+20. This symbol has dual meaning: 1) Christus Mansionem Benedicat meaning “May Christ bless this house” and 2) Casper, Melchoir, and Balthazar, the traditional names for the three wise men. Write the inscription with chalk above the door. Family members may take turns writing the different letters and symbols.
Before the meal use the simple Epiphany liturgy (see PDF below). Have one white candle lit in the center of the table. Each person has an individual smaller candle that will be lit as part of the ritual. The liturgy may be repeated each Sunday in the season.
In the season after Epiphany choose a Bible verse on the theme of light for each week, for example:
Arise, shine; for your light has come,and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
… for once you were in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light and try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.
Children take turns lighting candles for the evening meal and leading the verse. As the verse is repeated throughout the week it usually isn’t long before everyone can say it by heart. A little bit of painless memorization.
PDF file for Epiphany Eve, Twelfth Night, family worship leaflet has just a bit to read, to sing, and to pray.
Print on heavy stock and you’ll have reusable leaflets that may simply be pulled out to be used year after year. Covers may be decorated by the children.
Reading should be done by both adults and children; it is important to involve everyone at an appropriate level.
The leaflet for the Season of Epiphany is printed on a half sheet, with just a verse for each week. Print 2-sided, then trim. As the season begins on the Day of Epiphany, January 6, and ends the day before Ash Wednesday, the number of weeks varies from year to year.
Advent, Christmas & Epiphany Resource Books for Families
Christmas Books for Children
Epiphany Through the Eyes of Children
Guiding Stars: An Epiphany Activity at Home
Plan an Epiphany Party … With King Cake!
Candlemas: History, Traditions … and Crepes! more than Groundhog Day!
Three Teaching Points for Epiphany from Building Faith
More Epiphany Ideas—home blessing, Magi kindness star game—from Building Faith
Tips for Starting Church Year Celebration in the Home
Church Year Resource Books
Advent in the Home
Christmas in the Home—All Twelve Days
Epiphany in the Home
Lent in the Home
Holy Week in the Home
Easter in the Home
Ascension Day in the Home
Pentecost in the Home
Trinity Sunday in the Home
Ordinary Time in the Home
Baptismal Anniversaries in the Home