At the shopping malls, the ones that are open, they have stopped playing music related to the holiday, namely Christmas. I don’t recall hearing many Hanukkah or Kwanzaa carols being played here, there and everywhere, so I think it’s fair to say Christmas Music has been put on hiatus till after Halloween 2021. Although several of the Christmas songs that are sung exclusively during what Christians would call the Advent season, are actually about winter and not Christmas. But still you’re still not likely to hear Winter Wonderland or Let it Snow during a snow storm in January or February even thou Baby Its Cold Outside.
If you are able to make it to Mass, you’ll notice not the lack of singing Christmas Carols but the rapid increase of singing them. But not the secular songs of Santa, Rudolf or Frosty even though it is The Most Wonderful Time of the Year to Step into Christmas. The Songs that are sung are of angels, shepherds, managers and of asking important questions such as What Child is This? Do you know? Mary did You know? And traditionally on January 6 we bring “We Three Kings’ out of the old hymnal to grace our mass with a carol written by an Episcopalian minister on the feast of Epiphany. Of course, it is sometimes celebrated on the Sunday after the solemnity of Mary the Mother of God on New Year’s Day, January 1. The Sunday in which this happens this year is today on January 3.
What is the feast of Epiphany?
The feast of Epiphany is the celebration of the manifestation or theophany of the 2nd person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ, who is 100 % human and a 100% God. And when we say God, we don’t mean the Supreme Being, but to quote St. Doctor Aquinas esse ipsum subsistens, the sheer act of being itself. He is the Word who in the beginning was with God and who was God and became flesh in the womb of the immaculate ever virgin Mary which is celebrated on the feast of the annunciation on March 25. Mary’s immaculate conception is celebrated during Advent on December 8 right around the celebration of Mary’s heavenly visit to Guadalupe on December 12 with the celebration of the visionary Saint Juan Diego several days earlier on December 9. And in case you thought we had a lack of days honoring the mother of God, during advent and Christmas, who is at the same time daughter of God and spouse of the Holy Spirit, Papa Francis has given us the feast of Our Lady of Loreto, commemorated on December 10. In Loreto, Italy there is a basilica known for enshrining the house in which the Blessed Virgin Mary is believed by some Catholics to have lived, just as Jesus was enshrined in Mary’s body where he lived for a short time. But he always lived in her heart as she pondered him.
He revealed himself to the Jewish people through the law and the prophets. On the feast of Epiphany or Little Christmas, he physically manifested himself to the Gentiles. The main focus of this revelation is to the magi or three kings who visited him and gave him the gifts of the chemical element with the symbol Au and atomic number 79, an aromatic resin used in incense and perfumes, obtained from trees of the genus Boswellia in the family Burseraceae, particularly Boswellia sacra and a natural gum or resin extracted from a number of small, thorny tree species of the genus Commiphora. Or as they are traditionally called gold, frankincense and myrrh. These gifts make one wonder and ponder,
What gifts to you bring to the Christ Child?
Western tradition has given names to these wiseman of the Persian priestly caste of Zoroastrianism.
Melchior a Persian scholar and a king of Persia,
Gaspar a king of India.
Balthazar, a Babylonian scholar and a king of Arabia.
Clergyman and author Henry van Dyke wrote a tale about The Other Wiseman (1895) a fourth Magi named Artaban who missed meeting up with the other 3 and then spends his life searching for the Christ child. It has been made into a movie starting Catholic actor Martin Sheen.
These wise men of orient were searching for the Christ child and because they were astrologers, they followed a star of wonder, a star of light, a star with royal beauty bright. It was westward leading, still proceeding, guiding them to thy perfect light. They followed their natural GPS to the Little Town of Bethlehem to find the new born king of the Jews. Before they arrived at their destination, they stopped off to use the bathroom and get some drinks at King Herod’s palace. While there they asked Herod if he knew where this new king might exactly be. Not having clear instructions like the Shepherds, they weren’t exactly sure. King Herod wasn’t sure either, but being the good evil ruler that he was, he also wanted to know where the child was born. But unlike the Magi, he didn’t want to bring him gifts, he wanted to bring DEATH. When the Magi were warned in a dream by an angel not to return to Herod’s palace, Herod had a hissy fit and decided to go on a killing rampage anyway and had all children under 2 executed. This is the known as the feast of the first Christian martyrs, the Feast of the Holy Innocents which is celebrated on December 28.
The Star of Bethlehem in Popular Entertainment
The energy from the Star of Bethlehem is what powers the Santa’s North Pole kingdom in The Christmas Chronicles.
In the Short Story ‘”The Star” by Arthur C. Clarke, the Bethlehem Star exploded in a Supernova killing a planet and lighting up the way for the magi.
It was adapted into a 80’s Twilight Zone episode in which the ending, ended in a happier tone.
A similar story is told in a made for kids recording off the Six Million Dollar Man record The Six Million Dollar Man Christmas called Christmas Lights.
In another story the Three Wise Queens: A Story of the Nativity Gifts (2017) by James Allen
Expanding on the beloved Christmas story, Three Wise Queens is the story of Hekima, Sophia and Mingzhi, the wives of the three kings. Fortunately, the wisdom of the three queens results in more appropriate gifts being selected for the Christ child. The reasoning behind the queen’s choices is notable.Guided by that prophecy and a star—they embark on a journey across three continents on their way to Bethlehem. Join in their wonder with this beautifully illustrated 32 page storybook. This unforgettable story will fill you with joy, as you share in their journey to Jesus!
The adventures of the 3 kings is what we remember on the feast of Epiphany. We also think of Christ’s manifestation of his baptism in the Jordan river by his cousin St. John the Baptist and the revelation to his disciples of turning the water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee. The following Sunday we set aside the baptism of Jesus as its own special day, marking the end of the Christmas season. This is the time to take down your Christmas decorations. If you fail you have another opportunity to take them down without shame. In the old Catholic calendar used before Vatican 2 the Christmas season ends on Candlemas or on Feast of the Presentation of the Lord or Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This happens to be on the day Bill Murray enters a time loop on February 2. That’s Right, Woodchuck-Chuckers, It’s Groundhog Day! This is the last time to take them down without being considered inauspicious.
Before the light of this post lingers too long, I want to mention some popular interesting and fascinating Epiphany customs which include…
Epiphany Singing, in which children and young people walking from house to house with a star on a rod and often wearing crowns and dressed in clothes to resemble the Three Magi sing songs.
The chalking of the doors is a centuries-old practice throughout the world, though it appears to be somewhat less well-known in the United States. It is, however, an easy tradition to adopt, and a great practice whereby we dedicate our year to God from its very outset, asking His blessing on our homes and on all who live, work, or visit them there.
Practicing traditions like the chalking of the doors helps us to live our Faith more concretely and serve as an outward sign of our dedication to Our Lord. Our homes are also the place where many of us will make the greatest strides in our spiritual growth, through observance of daily prayer, spiritual reading, and work offered as an oblation to God.
The chalking of the doors of a home encourages Christians to dedicate their life at home to God and to others. Seeing the symbols over our doors can help to remind us, while passing in and out on our daily routines, that our homes and all those who dwell there belong to Christ. It also serves as a reminder of welcoming the Magi gave to Jesus. We should strive to be as welcoming to all who come to our homes to visit us! Jamie Skojec, The Chalking of the Doors: An Epiphany Tradition Explained (January 6, 2020)
Consuming Three Kings Cake,
My priest talked about this in his homily for the holy day. According to Wikipedia.
“What started out roughly 300 years ago as a dry French bread–type dough with sugar on top and a bean inside now comes in many varieties depending on the country. Some king cakes are made of a sweet brioche dough in the shape of a hollow circle with a glazed topping sprinkled with colored sugar. Hundreds of thousands of king cakes are eaten in New Orleans during the Carnival season. In other countries, king cakes are made with a puff pastry, filled with one of several fillings (e.g., almond, apple, chocolate/pear, etc.), and have a small figurine, called a fève, hidden inside. The figurine changes from bakery to bakery and can have a variety of themes. The person who gets the piece of cake with the fève has various privileges and obligations.”
I was wondering what happen if a person bit into the cake and ruined their teeth by chomping down to hard on the figurine? Or what if they swallowed it?
Winter Swimming or Polar Bear Plunges which involves jumping into freezing cold waters. Seeing I hate cold water and often take long hot showers where I just sit there and let the hot water run over me as I meditate and pray, I find this act of immersing yourself in ungodly temperatures a sure sign you may need to rethink your life before you get hyperthermia.
As the liturgical year continues on, may we like the wise men seek out Christ the king and make him ruler over our hearts and minds.
At His birth, the Wise Men of the East came to His cradle; the Greeks, who were the Wise Men of the West, came to the Cross. Both the Magi of the East and the Magi of the West were to see a humiliation; in the first instance, God in the form of a Babe in Bethlehem, and in the latter, God in the form of a criminal on the Cross. As a sign leading to an understanding of His Divinity, the Magi were given the star; the Greeks, a grain of wheat.- Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, Life of Christ (p. 380).