Last night we celebrated Twelfth Night, the last night of the 12 Days of Christmas which end on Epiphany. The celebration of Twelfth Night is not a common tradition in the U.S., but in our family we do lots of things most people don’t. Once of those is to celebrate various festivals year-around. So, we had a party!
This year’s celebration included as always a Three Kings cake (a cake with three beans hidden inside) in honor of the three wise men. We all know the Biblical story actually tells of three gifts for the Christ-child, not three wise men bearing one gift each. Nevertheless, that’s the tradition so we honor it.
Traditions have to start somewhere so this year we added a few new things to our Twelfth Night celebration. First of all, my wife made homemade eggnog. I swear I never want to drink store bought eggnog again! Also, my oldest daughter got to bake and decorated our Three Kings cake this year. She was very excited and proud. It came out beautifully. And it was tasty! Alas, she did not find one of the beans in her slice so, she didn’t get to wear one of the lovely, hand-made three king’s crowns. Neither did I for that matter. We all had fun anyway!
After dinner we honored the upside-down, mixed-up tradition of Twelfth Night by turning our clothes backward (another first) as we played games. We put on some Christmas music to play “Four Corners” and I found pictures of mixed-up animals* to put in each of the four corners. Finally we played “Move-If-You’ve”. If you’re not familiar with “Move-If-You’ve”, it’s a variation of musical chairs where the person standing calls something out and if what’s called out applies to anyone seated around the room they have to quickly scramble to find different seat. It’s a lot of fun and is a great mixer for getting to know each other.
We finished up the evening with a reading of The Fourth Wise Man before putting the kids to bed. This is is a beautifully written and illustrated story of the imagined tale of a fourth wise man, delayed in leaving with this friends (see note about the Three Kings above) to follow the star to Bethlehem. He is a Zoroastrian who spends his life doing good deeds for others while searching for the King of Kings only to discover he’d been serving the King of Kings all along.
This story poses a comforting thought to start out the New Year. What if the thing you’ve been seeking most in life is, perhaps, something you’ve actually have had with you all along?
That really would be something worth celebrating.
*Mixed-up animals: tigeroo, beever, catfish and donkeydillo