January 06, 2015

How to mix Boxing Day, Epiphany Feast, Twelfth Night, and Old Befana for QUITE a January celebration


Sooooooo Christmas Break is officially over and it's about time I step into 2015.  Here's how I launch into the wintry future...

Let's Celebrate!

Yup.  I combine a bunch of winter festivals into one big GOOD LUCK IN THE NEW YEAR send off.  I've blogged about it before,  but I'm gathering it all here for a true layout of what I do, so that in 2016 I can come back to this post and feel like I've finally pulled together a festival feel perfect for my household.  Perhaps it will be perfect for your household too...



Let me preface this little ditty with the fact that Christmas in and of itself is a busy time for us (no kidding, you too?).  Travel/food prep/gatherings oh and Jesus- lots of focus on Him.  So with all that, any other lovely things kind of fall to the way side; sometimes intentionally pushed, other times our hands are tied with calendar obligations. Case in point: this year I was saddened to think that we wouldn't make it to a Nutcracker showing because we would be visiting family in Pennsylvania.  Then suddenly another local dance company announced their schedule of performances, a date worked with our schedule, and voila my boys were able to see the Mouse King come to life!  I love when life works that way, but since most times it doesn't I've learned to condense, and then expand during a time that works for us.  Typically that falls right.around.now. 




 The Feast of Epiphany lays the foundation for our celebrating.  That link is heady with all things Epiphany which is why I use it as a resource, but if that's not your speed, here's my take on it.  

We rejoice in the Magi arriving to the Holy stable; the boys better able to understand holiday gift giving when thinking of birthday gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  I bake some sort of cake before January 5th and hide a shell in it. Whoever finds it is King or Queen later, during our Epiphany meal.  This year our friend N found it and so during our celebratory dinner he was unofficially crowned King. BUT we didn't have a crown (mental note: get one in time for next year), so Ace lent him one of his silks.  A red one- very thoughtful and stylish.

You read that right- I bake a King's cake to eat before our official celebration so that we know who is the King or Queen for the Epiphany meal.  It works for us and no one has complained about having two cakes to eat.

The Eve of the Epiphany is January 5th, so usually that's when Old Befana makes her appearance.  As the legend alludes, she tidies the boys room while they sleep and leaves a small gift.  Sometimes it's baked goods and treats, sometimes it's lights, sometimes it's cleaning supplies like aprons or dust pans, and sometimes...like this year... it's a combination.







I discovered this scene when going to give my boys a goodnight kiss.  Old Befana had already arrived and left twinkling lights on the bed and in a cookie basket on the floor.

From New Year's until Befana arrives, we prepare by gathering supplies for gingerbread house building.  We collect birdseed and peanutbutter and pinecones and empty toilet paper rolls to eventually make feeders for the birds and critters.  Last year's Boxing Day piggy bank is prominently displayed until the appointed moment when it is smashed.










Books are read:
- "Gingerbread Baby" by Jan Brett
- "The Legend of Old Befana" by Tomi DePaola
- "Strega Nona's Gift" by Tomi Depaola
- "Good King Wenceslas" adapted by David T.Warner
- "The After Christmas Tree" by Linda Wagner Tyler

Everything we do is in a lazy, organized chaos kind of way.  I fit activities in when we can and eventually it all happens: from gingerbread house building, to donating the Boxing Day money, to decorating our after Christmas tree for the animals.  

January 6th arrives (most of the time on January 6th) and we celebrate Twelfth Night/The Feast of the Epiphany with a festive dinner and that second cake I mentioned!  Afterwards, prayers and wishes for the New Year are shared and our nativity is gently disassembled.  

After going at this for almost 3 years, I feel like a tradition has begun and most of the kinks (dang forgotten King's crown) are worked out.  Better than that, it feels fluid and peaceful... the very tonic I need to head into the New Year.

Here's to 2015.

Any of this sound familiar to you?  What are your winter holiday traditions?

2 comments:

Katie said...

You are amazing, those cookies look awesome. Look at the gingerbread houses. Lots of work but what great memories you are making for your family

T.J. said...

Once we were in the thick of this I loved every second, so you're right Katie- great memories were definitely made :) Plus, this year Bear did a decent amount of gingerbread house building by himself. Score!!!!

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