Happy Twelfth Night or Eve of Epiphany!
Tonight is Twelfth Night!
The celebration of Twelfth Night and Epiphany is one of our oldest celebrations in the church. It is even older than the celebration of Christmas Day!
Twelfth Night begins at sundown and is the beginning of the celebration of Epiphany. On Epiphany, we celebrate the arrival of the Wise Men to the child Jesus. The Wise Men were kings from the east who were led by a bright and unusual star in the sky. They knew that the star signified the birth of a mighty king. They brought gifts worthy of a king and traveled for quite some time until they were led to a humble home where Jesus lived with Mary and Joseph. The church recognizes this moment as an epiphany where Jesus is revealed to the world beyond the Jews (the Gentiles).
Although Twelfth Night is not celebrated much in the United States, it is a major holiday in other countries around the world. There is feasting and parades through the streets. Men dressed as Wise Men can be seen parading down the streets and Wise Men figures are placed at town nativity scenes. This is the last great feast in the Christmas cycle and it is wonderfully celebrated.
Have a Twelfth Night party tonight! 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+22).
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.