The feast of the Epiphany on 6 January reminds us that the Light of Christ shines forth for people of all nations. There are many reflections for this feast however the words of Pope Francis offer much food for thought as we celebrate this year:
“The destiny of every person is symbolized in the journey of the Magi of the East: our life is a journey, illuminated by the lights which brighten our way, to find the fullness of truth and love which we Christians recognize in Jesus, the Light of the World. Like the Magi, every person has two great ‘books’ which provide the signs to guide this pilgrimage: the book of creation and the book of sacred Scripture. What is important is that we be attentive, alert, and listen to God who speaks to us, always speaks to us. As the Psalm says in referring to the Law of the Lord: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path’. (Psalm 119:105)”.
Around the world there are many rich traditional ways of celebrating the Epiphany:
1. In England, the night before the Epiphany was known as Twelfth Night and traditionally a time for getting friends together even playing practical jokes!
2. In France, families traditionally shared a King’s Cake of puff pastry filled with an almond and sugar paste – a slice of which was reserved for the first person in need who would knock at their door.
3. In Ireland, Epiphany was described as “Little Christmas” or “Women’s Christmas” and was a day when women traditionally rested after their work of cooking and preparing for Christmas. Women would gather for a high tea accompanied by wine to honour the miracle at the wedding of Cana.
4. In the Philippines, it was customary for children to leave shoes out on the eve of the Epiphany to receive sweets or coins from the Three Kings. Some areas also had parades with the ‘Three Kings’ giving sweets to children.
5. In Russia the feast of the Epiphany is dedicated to the baptizing of Christ by John the Baptist in the river Jordan. People join processions to a nearby river or lake to collect water. Traditionally there are blessings of water to be used in rituals throughout the year and the blessed water is sprinkled on those gathered.
In what ways did you and your family traditionally celebrate the Epiphany?
How will you celebrate it this year? By gathering with friends on the eve of Epiphany, by cooking and sharing a special cake or hosting a high tea with other women, by giving some sweets to the children in your family or by quietly giving thanks for the gift of clean and refreshing water as you wash or enjoy a drink?
May whatever celebration of Epiphany 2019 you chose help you be more attentive, alert and ready to listen to God who speaks to us.