On this day in January 2013, Jeremy wrote about the ancient tradition of Twelfth Night, the night before the Feast of the Epiphany. I thought I knew everything there is to know about the Epiphany—but I was wrong—so wrong.
For his religious education family group on Sunday, my brother made a Jeopardy! game about all things related to the Epiphany. We took his test—and failed miserably.
The first problem was coming up with the names of the three kings. I defaulted to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, knowing I was very wrong, but there were three names, and they are figures in the Bible. I couldn’t conjure up Melchior, Casper (or Gaspar) and Balthazar. The pressure of the timed moment was just too great—even with the hint that one of them sounded like a “friendly ghost.” This CNN iReport describes the Lithuanian celebration of the three kings. (Another future post, for certain.)
I completely failed on the three gifts. I could name them, sure. But I forgot the spiritual purpose of each one, especially myrrh. Later, I spent some time reading about each of the gifts and how they relate to the recognition of the divinity of the baby Jesus.
My brother asked about the Massacre of the Innocents and the names of ancient kings. The only answer I was sure of was “Egypt” (where Mary, Joseph and Jesus fled).
Although, Roger and I earned an imaginary $1800, it was a struggle. I will be re-visiting some of the major points of the Nativity story this year. Be prepared for Epiphany Jeopardy! rematch.
“The Writer’s Almanac” today featured a description of Twelfth Night in the early American Colonial period.
This month marks the third year of The Yule Log 365, and I feel like I have so much to learn.
In your nativity scene of course! All of those animals have made appearances in the birth recreation. The most traditional are the donkey and the ox. The ox said to represent patience and the donkey represents humility. My favorite discovery is the inclusion in some scenes of an elephant. Personally I love the sheep. I have very fond memories of the sheep in our display while growing up. They were hand-made and covered with real wool. We stored them in a small tin to protect them from any possible danger from mice or other special visitors. I also really love the sheep in one of my current sets- they’re so happy!! (thanks to my friend Shawn for the great gift)
Whether you call it a nativity, a crèche, or simply a manger it is the traditional representation of the birth of the baby Jesus. The depiction of the small crib in the manger with the shepherds, animals, the magi, Mary, Joseph, angels, and of course the baby come from descriptions found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Matthew has the star of Bethlehem and the Magi. Luke has the angel and the shepherds. Throw it all together and you get our take on the events. The nativity tradition has been around for nearly 800 years. History tells us that St. Francis of Assisi began the nativity display with a living display in the year 1223. The practice was wildly popular and spread throughout the western world. There are many unique cultural and regional practices connected to nativity displays. They are as different as are people. Spend a little time searching the web and you can view elaborate or simple creations. (Special bonus points to readers who know of the Catalonian tradition of the caganer) Fisher Price has a Little People display, S’mores marshmallow people have one, the Vatican has one of the most recognized crèche scenes the world over. Check out this great candle display at savingslifestyle. I wonder if Lego has ever considered producing a display?
Taking off from the traditional nativity scene is the more expansive Christmas village display of the Christmas Putz. These village displays can be quite elaborate and a true sense of pride for the owner. Locally take advantage of the opportunity to see the great Putz display at the Evangelical Reformed United Church of Christ. This display is up each season during the Frederick Historic Houses of Worship tour, traditionally held the day after Christmas. Frederick just celebrated its 25th tour- plan now to catch it in 2012. It is a great night in the downtown area and features architecture, fellowship, refreshments, and great music.
My church has a beautiful nativity scene. The manger is front and center and the baby Jesus arrived on Christmas. The shepherds are off to the left tending their flocks. Slowly over the last weeks the wise men have been moving closer. It will be exciting to see them arrive this weekend with the celebration of the feast of the Epiphany. Tomorrow marks the final day of our 12 days of Christmas- Epiphany!!
Finally I wanted to show my newest nativity set. I have about 9 of them and love to find unique and creative displays. This one was a gift and I believe was discovered in the discount bin at a Wegman’s of all places! Thanks Paula:)