The Twelve Days of Christmas mark our countdown of the Advent Season, and we observe Epiphany on the sixth day of January. Three kings are a part of this holiday as well as countless cakes and tiny dolls.
The day marks the end of extended celebrations but in the American South, it is considered the beginning of Carnival Season. It’s little wonder that most people recognize Epiphany without really understanding it.
In Western Christian tradition this day is special because it commemorates the visitation of the Three Kings to the Baby Jesus, their crowns have become universal symbols of their offerings. Their recognition of the newborn as the true Son of God embodies spirituality that spans from Christmas to Epiphany.
Nativity scenes celebrate the birth of Christ, but when the Three Kings join in, the display represents the last day of Advent. Few people understand the difference, but this is a time for celebration; the details are of less importance than the spirit we all share.
The road from kings and crowns to cakes and carnivals span centuries. King Cakes are a Southern tradition, baked with a tiny doll hidden inside and good fortune follows the lucky soul who discovers the small treasure. New Orleans begins its beloved Carnival Season with hearts and hopes set on Mardi Gras.
Our ability to blend religious observance and secular celebration seems a bit intuitive. We share our stories and our cakes, and we all celebrate Epiphany in our own special ways.