Jan 6, 2011
Three Kings Day~January 6th
Today is Three Kings Day. Three Kings Day, Epiphany, and Twelfth Day are all the same thing.
Many people in America begin the twelve days of Christmas on December 13 and end on Christmas Eve. They use the Twelve Days of Christmas as a time to present gifts to their loved ones or those in need. This is a great practice that should be continued. In most areas of Christianity though, The Twelve Days of Christmas are actually the twelve days following Christmas Day, ending on January 6. On January 6, known as Three Kings Day or Twelfth Day, there is a celebration or Feast of the Epiphany held.
According to a legend based on a Bible story found in Matthew, The Three Wise Men: Melchior, Gaspar, and Baltazar saw a bright star on the night of Jesus Christ's birth. They followed the star to Bethlehem, bringing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to present to the Christ child. Along the way, they were met by King Herod and they told him of the birth of the Messiah. King Herod ordered the Three Wise Men to find the baby and return to tell him where the Messiah could be found so that he may pay homage. After being warned by God in a dream that they should not return to Herod because he planned to kill the baby, they returned to their own countries another way.
Three Kings Day commemorates the Three Kings' visit to the Christ child and their acknowledgement that Jesus is "King".
Three Kings Day/Twelfth Day/Epiphany is celebrated with a wide array of customs around the world. In some cultures, Christmas trees and decorations are taken down on this day, and it's considered bad luck to keep them up past this date. In other cultures, the decorations are left up until February 2 (Candlemas Day).
Food and drink are at the center of modern day celebrations. The traditional drink of Wassail is served in many cultures. In Mexico, Spain, and other Latin countries a bread called Rosca de Reyes, or Three Kings Bread is served. It is a ring shaped-bread with a small doll baked inside which represents the baby Jesus. The figure symbolizes the hiding of the infant from King Herod's troops. According to tradition, whoever finds the doll in their slice of bread must give a party on February 2. In English custom, the Twefth-cake is baked to contain a bean and a pea, so that those receiving the slices containing them should be designated king and queen of the night's festivities. Many other cultures serve King Cakes containing figures, rings, and beans.
Other traditions in various cultures include: gift-giving, caroling from door to door, house blessings, chasing away of evil spirit, and parades. You can find extensive information about the various celebrations at Wikipedia.org.
Bean Day ~ Bean Day is also celebrated today. The origins, creator, and reason for this day are unknown, but my guess is that it has something to do with the King-Cakes which are baked with a bean inside to designate who will be King for the day.
Sources: infobayarea.com, Wikipedia.com, Wikipedia.com (2)