Epiphany Twelfth Night Holiday Party Planner



Few students look forward to returning to school in January after Christmas vacation. So why not start the New Year with a holiday party? But you just did the holiday season, right? Well, not if you live Europe, South America or some other countries. There, the holiday season has just begun! And it's called Epiphany (or Three Kings Day, Dia de Reyes, Twelfth Night). Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian churches celebrate Jan. 6 as Three Kings Day when the Magi brought gifts to Baby Jesus. People mistakenly assume the Magi arrived with the shepherds, angels, etc. But the Bible says they came roughly 12 days after Jesus's birth, so Three Kings Day is the Twelfth Night after Christmas.Here's an Epiphany party planner to use for social studies lessons.
Tell the Christmas story using a nativity manger scene. Explain that the manger scene is a sacred devotional in many lands. It's called a creche in France and Germany, a presepio in Italy and a nacimiento in Latin countries. St Francis of Assisi first used the manger scene as an object lesson in his homilies in the mid 13th century. In Catholic homes, the Magi aren't placed in the manger scene until Epiphany. Nativity figures "travel" around the room as the wisemen, Have students write a play, using the gospel of St. Luke from the Bible, to show what the Magi and Holy Family might have encountered in their travels. Act out the play.
Explore the Magi. Read "The Fourth Wise Man" by Henry VanDyke. Or watch "The Fourth Wise Man" movie version at Youtube. It's the story of Arteban, who was supposed to join the other three Magi--Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar--but couldn't because he was so busy living the gospel. Read the opening chapters of "Ben Hur" by Gen. Lew Wallace and watch part one of Jesus of Nazareth for portrayals of the Magi.
Make Three Kings Day crafts using these free printable Epiphany activities. Make a nativity set by dressing up paper towel and toilet paper tubes in fabric scraps. Use yarn for hair and draw on faces. Make crowns from recycled boxes. Cut a piece to around the head and tape in place. Cut the top edge in decorative designs. Paint the crown with metallic paint or cover with aluminum foil. Glue on faux gems, stickers, fur trim, etc.
Perform Three Kings Day ceremonies. Since Twelfth Night also commemorates the Baptism of Jesus, light your children's' baptismal candles. If they did not receive one, you can light any candle and pray a special blessing for them. Do an Epiphany house blessing. In this ancient tradition, ask the three kings to watch over your home. Write the their initials over the door that you enter and exit through.. Use chalk to write C+B+M fpr Caspar, Balthazar and Melchior. Use different colored chalk each year.
Make crowns from recycled boxes. Cut it to fit and paint the crown with metallic paint or cover with aluminum foil. Glue on faux gems or stickers, fur trim, etc. Dress up in royal (looking) robes and put on an Epiphany passion play.

Prepare a Twelfth Night King cake. A traditional New Orleans King cake is a frosted cinnamon ring filled with fruit and nuts and decorated to look like a crown. Colored sugar in Mardi Gras colors of gold, purple and green, decorates the King cake. A tiny plastic baby Jesus is placed inside. The finder is king for the day and must make another King cake to be eaten the next night. The procedure is repeated till Mardi Gras. That's a lot of cake to eat, so you could do a weekly King cake. You can make any flavor King cake you like. Bake in a bundt pan so it resembles a crown and insert prize from bottom when it's cooled. If you can't find a baby Jesus, use a Hershey's Kiss, wrapped candy, plastic coin or dried bean. Spray sugar with colored water for Twelfth Night decorations.

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Freelance writer, Top 100 Yahoo! Voices, Yahoo! News, Shine, Michigan, Detroit), blogger, teacher, mom of 4, happily married 25 years. Graduated GVSU 1986, psychology/general education and special education. continuing ed up to present. Certified MI teacher. Writing Michigan history mystery, children's Gothic fantasy. Areas of expertise: education, relationships, mental health, nutrition, history, world cultures. Passions: faith, Catholic church, sustainable living, interfaith initiatives, living simply that others might simply live. Working on MA in EI education. 

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