I have always loved the feast of Epiphany. My mom kept this tradition when my brother and I were growing up. In a way I kinda prefer celebrating it over Christmas. I am pretty sure she did too, it’s cozy, intimate and less frenetic. She called it “Little Christmas”. I didn’t understand the why and the how it was important, I understood we all had a gift to open and a special meal while we took down the tree and ramped up to go back to school. My mom had all kinds of little traditions she liked to celebrate during the long dreary months 0f winter. I loved her traditions and celebration. Our family home always felt warm and special. Her traditions have helped shape the way I like to give in my own home. I never need a reason to celebrate and I look for ways to keep “tradition” alive in our home. I am sentimental, romantic and probably hedonistic.
In Advent story we hear about shepherds and sheep, angels and Mary, Joseph and a long pregnant homeless journey for a census. At Epiphany, we hear the story of the 3 wisemen and the wicked brute Herod and my imagination goes wild. The date is January 6. The backdrop is the spice route, on a clear cold starry night in the desert. I can feel the slow, rocking pacing gait of the sure footed camel. I can hear the raucous noise of the caravan of servants tending to the three of the most intellectual people of the day. I am certain the Magi at points in the journey desired nothing more than a silent retreat. In my minds ear I can hear the oud and zurna playing while the caravan stopped to eat a simple repast of cheese, pumpkin, dates and tea. And, I love how they outwitted and deliberately disobeyed Herod by returning home by a different route. Anyway…I love this story and I can imagine what a blessing their gifts would have been to the Holy Family who in essence were homeless.
Epiphany is the day we take our tree and Christmas decorations down and stow them away for another year. As a family we ruminated about the Christmas season…what worked and what didn’t. For me it was one of the best Christmases ever…I had an “epiphany”, pardon the pun of my own. I am much, much happier to be giving and helping others. I am happy to have my little job using my God given talents. I feel useful, I feel appreciated and I feel included.
To close out our Christmas I started a new tradition and that was to make my version of a cross between a Portugese Bolo-Rei and the Spanish Rosca de Reyes. An enriched bread scented with orange and lemon zest, filled with port soaked raisins and cranberries. In lieu of candied glace fruit I made my own jiggly jellies to decorate the crown which was drizzled with a vanilla milk glaze. Inside the crown I hid parchment wrapped starfish (I couldn’t find stars representing the Nativity Star), nautical anchors representing hope and one crown.
Matt hid under the table and dictated who was to get each slice. The person to find the crown is the King or Queen for the day and must also supply the Epiphany cake in 2018. As luck would have it Matt gave me the slice with the crown. Next year I will make the Gallette.