Little Christmas Around the World

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Tomorrow is the Feast of the Epiphany, the day we celebrate the visit of the Magi to the Christ child in Bethlehem. In many cultures, Epiphany is the day of gift giving and a major celebration, often called “Little Christmas.” Since the secular culture around us turned off Christmas on January 2, it is important for us to keep the liturgical season alive. Christmas ends and Ordinary Time begins at the Baptism of the Lord, January 8. Celebrating Little Christmas is a great way to keep the season alive.

There are lots of ways to celebrate, but consider some of these international traditions when creating your Epiphany celebration:

  • In Ireland, Epiphany was the original Mother’s Day, when women took a day to celebrate and enjoy the day after all the work of creating a beautiful Christmas for their families. I could definitely get on board with this!
  • In Spain, Latin America, and other countries, the Kings bring gifts for children. Leaving shoes out for small gifts, and hay for the camels is a common part of this. Belfana, the old woman, brings gifts to fill stockings of good boys and girls on Epiphany in Italy.
  • This is a day for door-to-door caroling, collecting alms for poor or gifts and treats for children. In some countries, like Germany and Poland, children dress as the Kings and carry a star as they carol through the town.
  • In several cultures, this is a traditional time to have the house blessed for the year. The priest comes to your home, blesses the house with holy water and writes a blessing of the Three Kings over the door in chalk. 20-C-M-B-17 stands for Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar (our traditional names for the Magi) in the year 2017. If you want to have your house blessed this year, contact your parish to see if you need to get on the schedule.
  • If you are from France, Mexico, New Orleans, or many other parts of the world, you may make a King Cake! This colorful, iced almond pastry is shaped like a crown with a toy baby or crown baked in for the winner to find. Check out the Catholic Foodie for more on the King Cake, New Orleans style!

Copyright 2017 Kate Daneluk

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About Author

Kate Daneluk is a wife, mother of six, and co-founder of Making Music Praying Twice. With a background in music, theology and education, she contributes articles and resources to various publications.

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