Epiphany

Posted By on January 6, 2013

Our Roscon

Happy Epiphany or Kings’ Day to those celebrating today. I mention it because it was an important day in the Tudor calendar. Alison Sim, in her excellent book “Pleasures and Pastimes in Tudor England”, writes:

“The most sumptuous feast of the year was 6 January, Twelfth Night, which was also the feast of the Epiphany and so the day started with a church service, but it would end with some form of feasting and entertainment. At the court the King wore his full royal robes and crown, and often an elaborate masque or similar entertainment would take place.”

Of course, on 6th January 1540 Henry VIII was also having a sumptuous banquet to celebrate his marriage to his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves.

Epiphany, in Western culture, is the feast day celebrating the visitation of the Magi to baby Jesus. Here in Spain, children leave out their slippers or shoes on the night of 5th January for the Three Kings to leave them presents. If the children have been naughty, a piece of coal (which is actually coloured sugar these days!) is left for them. In our village, and in many communities around Spain, the Three Kings actually process around the village on the night of the 5th, throwing sweets to the crowd and then giving out presents to the children. Here are some photos that Tim took last night:


Today, we start our Roscón de Reyes (Kings’ Cake), a cake in which a bean and a King figure are hidden. Whoever finds the bean has to pay for the cake and whoever finds the King is crowned King of Epiphany, with the paper crown that comes with the cake, and will have luck for the year. Our Roscón is pictured at the top of this post.

Happy Kings’ Day!

3 thoughts on “Epiphany”

  1. Dawn 1st says:

    I hope you all had a lovely time last night, the cake looks scrummy, is it like a hot cross bun type cake?
    Now can I ask, because I am confused when 12th night actually is, if you count from Christmas Day the 5th of January is 12th night, so is the 1st day of Christmas Boxing Day? because I always have my decs down for the 5th…does it vary in different Countries, or in the different ways within the Christian faith?

    1. GADawn says:

      The Twelve Days of Christmas begins Christmas Day, Dec 25th, (also known in some places as Christmastide or Twelvetide). The Twelfth Night of Christmas is always on the evening of January 5th, but the Twelfth Day can precede or follow Twelfth night according to which tradition is followed (different countries/different religious branches). Twelfth Night is followed by the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th. Different christian denominations have different customs, time frames or interpretations. Since 1970, the rule for the Roman Catholic Church is: “The Epiphany of the Lord is celebrated on 6 January, unless, where it is not observed as a Holy day of obligation, it has been assigned to the Sunday occurring between 2 and 8 January.” and in the Church of England the feast may be the Sunday between January 2 and 8th although “officially” in UK Epiphany is Jan 6th.

      “Epiphany”, on Jan 6th itself, is the christian feast day to celebrate the visitation of the Magi to the Baby Jesus; the day they arrived to the Crèche following the holy birth.

      I keep my holiday deco up through Epiphany traditionally but most of my family no longer do so. I move the Magi in my navitiy scene every day from Dec 25th a little closer and closer to the Creche until they “arrive” Jan 6th, Epiphany.

  2. Kyra Kramer says:

    I loved Sim’s books. The one about the Tudor Housewife was my favorite, but I was fascinated by the information about the ritual year … even though some of the traditions were pretty horrific to the modern sensibilities.

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