Epiphany marks the end of the Christmas season, and in the global church, our Orthodox brothers and sisters have just observed Epiphany — and so we all now move into the rhythm of this next phase of the church year and its accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry.
The traditional story of the magi that marks Epiphany heralds the glory of God coming into the world — overcoming our darkness — and this is the good news we bring with us into this new year!
This story in Mathew’s gospel of the magi following a star that leads them to the Christ child is so beloved around the world — as one of our trustees, Dr. Jane Atkins Vasquez — author and church history professor — observes:
Epiphany falls on January 6, or “12th Night”, and is observed as the main Christmas celebration in many places. It is a feast day remembering the Magi’s visit and the manifestation of God with us. Each religious and cultural tradition (Greek Orthodox, Anglican, Roman Catholic and others) has special activities for Epiphany.
In Spanish-speaking countries, Epiphany is called “Three Kings Day” and recalls the role of the Magi in recognizing Jesus as God. Children leave a small box of straw or hay under their beds. The camels of the Magi come and eat the hay during the night, leaving a present in return.
In Latin America a special bread or pastry, called a rosca, or wreath, is prepared for Epiphany. The rosca is cut into pieces and served at a family gathering. There is a favor, el niño Dios, (a tiny doll representing Baby Jesus) inside one piece of the rosca. If you get the favor, don’t swallow it! The favor means that you will have the honor of hosting next year’s Epiphany dinner.
¡Feliz día de los reyes magos! Happy Three Kings Day!