Traditionally, the fest of the Epiphany is celebrated on the 12th day after Christmas, January 6. But in the United States, it is celebrated between January 2 and January 8th -probably to make sure as many American Catholics as possible can make it to mass on that day.
In my domestic church, we have been getting ready for Epiphany ever since we put out the Christmas Decorations. I have a very old nativity set that used to belong to my folks when I was a little girl. It is in remarkably good shape and we keep adding to it every year. When the creche goes out however, the wise men and their caravan is not with them. Instead they start in one corner of the dining room and work their way around the house until they arrive to see baby Jesus on Epiphany. I noted last night that they were still in the dining room and would have to really book it to Bethlehem for Epiphany, to which my 10-year-old assured me "they know a short cut."
When Rosie was little, she would hide one of the wise men (we call them the wise guys for fun). When she would hear me lamenting about where the missing wise guy could be, she would run and get him and then proclaim, "I found him mama, I got the wise guy!"
This year, each one of our wise men has his own camel. Additionally we have an elephant following them around too.
From the Fish Eaters Site:
Tradition says, too, that these three men were representative of the three ages of man and of the three "racial types" of man, the three families that descended from Noe's three sons (Sem, Cham, and Japheth). According to tradition, Caspar was the young, beardless, ruddy descendant of Ham who brought frankincense. Melchior was an old, white-haired, bearded descendant of Sem who brought gold. And Balthasar was a bearded black descendant of Japheth, in the prime of his life, who brought myrrh (see the works of the
Tradition says that the three wise men were baptized by St. Thomas and were all later martyred for the faith.
Tonight we will bless our house with a traditional Epiphany blessing. I first blogged this here.
From The Year and Our Children
Mary Reed Newland
Many blessings are given on the Epiphany. The Blessing of the Chalk, the Blessing of Gold, Frankincense, the Blessing of Bread, or Eggs, and of Salt and the Blessing of Homes.
There is a difference between blessings given by a priest and the same blessing read by the father or some older member of the family when it is not possible to have the priest present. But it is a mistake to consider them without efficacy when the layman reads them. By our Baptism we have a share in Christ’s Priesthood. If we are part of Christ in his Mystical Body, and He is High Priest, we share this with Him. Ours is not the same as the power of a consecrated priest, but it is our right and privilege to ask God’s blessing on the things we use in daily life, and we should exercise this privilege often. The Blessing of Chalk, is usually given by a priest at church. The chalk is then distributed to people, who take it home to use after the Blessing of the Home.
…going from room to room sprinkling the house with holy water. At the end of this procession, the father or other grown-up writes over the front door with the blessed chalk:
(This was written then in 1956. So today we write on our doors 20+C+B+M+08)
*C+B+M stand for the initials of the three wise men, Caspar, Melchoir, Balthasar.
BLESSINGS OF HOMES ON EPIPHANY
V. Peace be to this house
R. And to all that dwell herein.
Antiphon: From the west the Magi came to Bethlehem to adore the Lord; and opening their treasures, they found costly gifts; gold to the great King, incense to the true God and myrrh in symbol of his burial. Alleluia.
Now follows the reading of the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55). The home is sprinkled with holy water and following The Magnificat the antiphon is repeated: From the east… then the Our Father silently.
V. And lead us not into temptation.
R. But deliver us from evil.
V. Many shall come from Saba.
R. Bearing gold and incense.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto thee.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with they spirit. Let us spray. O God, Who by the guidance of a star didst this day reveal thy Sole-Begotten Son to the Gentiles, grand that we who now know thee by faith may be brought to the contemplation of thy heavenly majesty. Through the same Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord Who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen
Responsory: Be enlightened and shine forth, O Jerusalem, for thy light is come, and upon thee is risen glory of the Lord, Jesus Christ born of the Virgin Mary.
V. Nations shall walk in thy light, and kings in the splendor of thy birth.
R. And the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. Let us pray. Bless O Lord, almighty God, this home that it be the shelter of health, chastity, self-conquest, humility, goodness, mildness obedience to the commandments, and thanksgiving to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. May blessing remain for all time upon this dwelling and them that live herein. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Some epiphany resources:
Today is also another good day to enjoy some king cake!
Gifts of the Magi: Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh (Gifts of the Magi) is a good little book to have for Epiphany. This little set comes with a book about the Magi and goes over the origins of gold, frankincense and myrrh. It talks in depth about the uses and history of each and how they fit into the Christmas story. On the side they have little samples of gold, frankincense and myrrh for children to touch, see and smell. Highly recommended!
Feast of the Epiphany bookmarks on del.icio.us.