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How to Celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany

Epiphany, celebrated each year on January 6, marks the Twelfth Day of Christmas. Here's how to recognize the holiday.


  • Step 1: Get ready to feed the camels. In Spain, children leave hay or grass under their beds for the camels of the Three Kings in anticipation of their arrival on Twelfth Night. The children awake to find the hay gone and presents left in its place.
  • TIP: Children in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and other Latin American countries leave out their shoes instead of hay. They wake to find them filled with presents.
  • Step 2: Set up a creche or manger. In France a manger scene is put on display in homes on Twelfth Night. Gifts are exchanged on January 6. Coupled with a nice meal, that's a fine way to end a birthday party.
  • FACT: Shakespeare published the play _Twelfth Night_ in his _First Folio_ in 1623.
  • Step 3: Blow your horn. In Austria, Twelfth Night celebrations include costumed characters blowing horns and cracking whips to drive away evil spirits.
  • Step 4: Learn how to perform a Morris Dance. Twelfth Night festivities were replaced in England in the mid-nineteenth century by Morris Dancing.
  • TIP: "Feast" derives from a term meaning festival or celebration, and it is in this sense that Feast of the Epiphany is used in most cultures.
  • Step 5: Bake a cake. In France and England, a cake called "King's Cake" was traditionally consumed as part of the celebration. Enjoy it on Twelfth Night.
  • TIP: This is the origin of the King's Cake tradition at Mardi Gras. Find a recipe and bake one of these traditional cakes to spice up your celebration.
  • Step 6: Burn some incense. Traditionally in Austria, the head of the household moved throughout the house with incense in order to smoke out any evil spirits on Twelfth Night.
  • Step 7: Read the biblical story of the Magi visiting the Christ child in the book of Matthew, chapter 2. According to legend, wise men arrived to honor the Christ child on the evening of January 5, or Twelfth Night. The date became an occasion of celebration in some cultures.

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