Updated: Sep 13
Epiphany began at sundown on Twelfth Night and continues throughout the next day. On this day, we celebrate the long journey that the wise men made and their final arrival to the child Jesus. In the gospel of Luke, we are told that wise men came from the east to Jerusalem, looking for the one born to be the King of the Jews. They announced that they had seen His star and had come to worship Him. When King Herod heard this, he was troubled and felt threatened as the king. He asked the wise men to go and find the child and bring it back to him. The wise men followed the star as it went before them until the star stopped where the young child was. When they arrived at the home they rejoiced with “exceedingly great joy. They went into the home, saw the young child, and fell down and worshipped Him. Then they presented the child with their treasures; gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
The church recognizes this beautiful moment as an epiphany. An epiphany is a revelation that happens suddenly and it reveals something’s true nature or meaning. It was in this moment that God’s plan for salvation through Jesus is revealed to the world beyond the Jews. Through the wise men’s visit we see that through Jesus, God’s plan of salvation is meant for everyone.
Ways to Celebrate
Read Matthew 2:1-12.
Sing “We Three Kings of Orient Are”. As you sing, bring your nativity wise men and place them around baby Jesus lying in the manger.
After the adoration of baby Jesus, go to your front door and write the initials C, M, and B in chalk along the top of your door. The initials are said to stand for the names of the wise men: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, or “Christ, bless this house” in Latin (Christus mansionem benedicat). The initials are then surrounded by the current year and separated by crosses (20+C+M+B+23).
Make a Twelfth Night Cake (also known as King Cake, Galette de Rois, or Rosca de Reyes). Depending on the country, it is a simple cake with a dried bean inside. Whoever finds the bean in their piece of cake is crowned king or queen for the night and might also have duties assigned to them at a later celebration.
We tried a different recipe for our King Cake this year and it was so good! The bread was moist and light with such a good orange flavor. It was a hit!
Rosca de Reyes
1/2 cup of warm water
1 Envelope or 2 ¼ teaspoons of active yeast
4 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 or 3 Tbsp. more for dusting
¾ cup of sugar
3 large whole eggs
3 egg yolks mixed with 4 Tablespoons of milk
¼ teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons orange water
1 ½ stick unsalted butter softened
Freshly grated orange zest from one orange
1 plastic baby doll or a dried bean
Thinly sliced oranges
1/2 cup sugar
Enough water to cover the orange slices
1 egg beaten for glazing the bread
1 tablespoon whole milk or water
White sugar to sprinkle on top of the bread
2 or 3 plastic baby dolls
To make the sugared oranges, thinly slice oranges and then cut them in half. Place in a saucepan with water and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low boil and cook for 30 minutes. Drain the orange slices on a cookie rack and allow to cool.
To make the bread, put your lukewarm water into a bowl, and sprinkle with yeast. Stir with a fork until yeast has dissolved, then let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in ½ cup of the flour, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 25 minutes.
In the meantime, mix flour, eggs, egg yolks, sugar, orange extract, orange zest, salt, and butter in a large bowl. Mix until crumbly. Add yeast mixture to the bowl and mix. It will be very sticky but manageable, add flour if needed. Place on a lightly floured surface and start kneading until you have a smooth dough. It will take about 15-20 minutes to get these results or 7 minutes in a stand mixer. DO NOT add too much flour to your working area, the texture should be very soft, sort of wet but manageable. If you add more flour than needed your bread will be dry.
Once your dough is smooth and soft, place in a buttered bowl, and cover with buttered plastic wrap. The dough must be wet and elastic. Let dough stand in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 and ½ hours. If the dough doesn’t double in volume after this time let it rest longer.
After the first resting period. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead a few times, then shape it into a round cushion and make a hole in the middle to shape it into a large ring. Transfer to a greased-rimmed baking sheet, and loosely cover with buttered plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes or more until almost double in volume. Gather all your decorations and the egg wash. For the egg wash whisk the remaining egg with milk or water.
Preheat oven for at least 20 minutes before baking at 375 degrees, with rack in the lower third.
Brush the dough with the egg wash two times for a golden crust. Place the sugared orange slices around the ring, pressing them gently into the dough. Sprinkle with sugar and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 10 more minutes until bread is a nice golden brown color. Depending on your oven it will require more time.
Transfer the bread to a wire rack to cool. After the bread has cooled insert the plastic baby doll or bean from the bottom of the bread. Do not forget to let your guests know that there is a baby toy or bean inside the bread. The bread can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.