As the Christmas season draws to a close, we observe the Epiphany of the Lord, Jesus’ manifestation to the whole world after being revealed to the shepherds of Bethlehem. The Magi are the first Gentile witnesses of his message of universal salvation, and so with this feast we celebrate the fulfillment of God’s Advent promises.
Epiphany of the Lord
Epiphany, is traditionally celebrated the twelfth day after Christmas, January 6. Although the traditional date of Epiphany, also known as Three Kings Day, is January 6, this year in the United States it is celebrated on Sunday, January 7. Saint Patrick Catholic Church will celebrate the feast at 5:30 P.M. Vigil Mass on January 6 and at 8:30 A.M. and 10:30 A.M Mass on January 7.
The Blessing of the Home
There are many traditions associated with the Epiphany. Blessing of the Home on the Feast of the Epiphany is one. It is sometimes provided by pastor. When there is no blessing of houses in a parish on Epiphany, a family member may go through the various rooms of the home sprinkling holy water which can be obtained from the parish (bring a small jar with you to Mass and fill it from the Holy Water font by the Marian altar).
The Chalking of the Doors
The chalking of the doors is a centuries-old practice throughout the world, though it appears to be someone less well-known in the United States. It is, however, an easy tradition to adopt, and a great practice whereby we dedicate our year to God from its very outset, asking His blessing on our homes and on all who live, work or visit them.
These letters are inscribed between the numbers of the year of the ceremony. Thus, as people are given the opportunity to participate in the chalking of the door, they will inscribe one or more of the symbols:
20+ C +M + B +18
The symbols are usually written on the upper horizontal piece of the door frame of the front entrance to a home; but if younger children or people in wheel chairs participate, encourage them to place the symbols anywhere on the door frame they can comfortably reach.
Traditionally we remember the names of the Magi as Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar — although these names are not to be found in Scripture. During the chalking blessing, the first letters of these three names — C, M, B — are inscribed on the door frame. Some suggest the C M B may also stand for “Christus Mansionem Benedicat,” meaning “May Christ bless this dwelling.”
The children in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at Saint Patrick Catholic Church participate in this tradition— chalking the door to the atrium.
Share your Traditions
Watch the video to learn more about this feast day, then share your traditions.
Which tradition does your family have for this special feast day? Send us an email and tell us about it.