Twelfth Night & Epiphany

January 5th is Twelfth Night, the night before Epiphany.

The Three Magi: Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar, from a late 6th century mosaic at the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy.

The night of January 5th is Twelfth Night and is the night before Epiphany.

Twelfth Night traditionally concludes the twelve days of Christmas and is often associated with taking-down Christmas decorations. Many people believe it is unlucky to leave up Christmas decorations after Twelfth Night although the same belief was previously associated with Candlemas which is February 2nd. So, if you haven’t got your decorations down yet, there’s no real need to panic.

Twelfth Night precedes The Epiphany a day which celebrates the Three Wise Men visited to the baby Jesus.

In the Roman Catholic Church, The Epiphany was celebrated as an eight-day feast known as the Octave of Epiphany right up until 1955 when it was abolished by Pope Pius XII. The Anglican Church kept on celebrating the eight-day feast until 1976.

Twelfth Night is the time to put out your Yule Log, if you have been burning one and save the charcoal for use next Christmas lighting a new Yule Log.

A Spanish Roscón de reyes, or Kings' ring. Very similar to many other Twelfth Night cakes baked around the world.
A Spanish Roscón de reyes, or Kings’ ring. Very similar to many other Twelfth Night cakes baked around the world.

And then there is the Twelfth Cake. In England this is a dense fruit cake containing a clove, a twig and a rag. Whoever finds the clove is the villain, the twig was the fool and the rag was the tart! However, across in to Wales they eat a similar cake without the rags and twigs which is divided in to three parts to represent The Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost.

Around the world there are many similar cakes baked and eaten to celebrate the feast.

Personally, I like the idea of Wassailing where a hot mulled cider is shared and drunk on Twelfth Night, but that’s probably due to my West of England heritage.

Whatever your beliefs, Twelfth Night & The Epiphany are celebrated in similar but subtly different ways all around the world marking the end of the Christmas Period. For many countries it would have also meant mid-winter with a view towards spring. For us, it marks summer with hopefully some lovely warm, sunny days.

Time to go and see to the decorations…

About Mike 314 Articles
As publisher of The Kuringai Examiner, I have an interest in all things on the North Shore, particularly news, sport and food. I'm always on the outlook for something unique and original to bring to my readers.