Epiphany or Three Kings Day is January 6 and as the Twelfth Night officially ends the Christmas season. It is a day to celebrate the baptism of Jesus and the arrival of The Magi (Three Kings or Wise Men). In the Middle Ages Christmas was celebrated from Christmas Eve to January 6. And Epiphany Day was a major celebration well into the mid 19th century when its importance diminished. The Catholic Church no longer requires January 6 to be celebrated as a solemnity on that exact day and celebrates it on the Sunday that follows it. Some Protestant churches celebrate the Epiphany season from January 6 till Ash Wednesday. Orthodox Christians celebrate it on January 19 as they follow the Julian calendar.
In many Spanish speaking countries, Dia de los Reyes (Three Kings’ Day)is celebrated with special foods and gatherings. Many European countries have their own unique observances as well. Children often gets treats or presents on this day. In Italy, La Befana flies through the night on January 5 on a broomstick to deliver gifts to good kids and give coal to the bad ones.
So who were the Three Kings? There is a lot of debate on this. Some doubt they existed and some consider it a pious fantasy. Much of what is called the Three Kings today are embellishments that have been added over time. The Gospel of Matthew, the earliest source of the story, is quite simple and only refers to them as Magi from the east. Nor does it say there were only three but three gifts were given. And it is possible they were actually Nabataeans, a trading people that lived in northern Arabia to the Southern Levant whose capital is known as Petra today. Dwight Longnecker in his book Mystery of the Magi examines this evidence. Worth reading if you want to learn more about who these Magi might really have been.
Traditionally there are 12 days of Christmas beginning on Christmas Day (December 25) and ending on Epiphany Day (Little Christmas/Three Kings or Wise Men Day) on January 6. Customs vary by country but almost always there are special activities, foods, and in opening of presents as well.
The celebration of Twelfth Night came about in medieval and Tudor England when Candlemas originally ended the Christmas season. A special cake was prepared with a bean and pea hidden inside. The man who found the pea in his slice of cake became king for the night while the woman who found a pea became Queen for the night. Christmas carols and feasting would also take place. A special punch for Christmas, wassail, was often drunk on that night but also during the entire season as well.
Since Twelfth Night is about the impending arrival of the Three Kings, the statues of them would appear in the crib or the following day in countries such as Ireland. Christmas decorations would start to be taken down as well and certainly by the end of Epiphany Day. Edible portions of wreaths (fruits or nuts) would be consumed as part of a feast as well. The famous Shakespeare play Twelfth Night was written as entertainment for the holiday.
Twelfth Night is considered secular by Christian denominations and not a required day of observance. The following day, Epiphany Day, is a solemnity and observed by attendance in church.
Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year celebration. To get the year off, here is some Titanic news for your consideration.
The Titanic’s Forgotten Sister (Forbes, 1 Jan 2019) Olympic’s story illustrates an important lesson that technologies generally evolve gradually and not in sudden spurts. As Henry Petroski reminds us, engineers learn from failure and innovate to avoid making mistakes in the future. From the sinking of the Titanic, naval architects learned how to properly design watertight compartments, company managers realized the business value in having fancier staterooms and of course, everyone saw the necessity of having more lifeboats, safety drills and radio communications. Olympic, in large measure, was only able to have a long and successful career because her owners and captains had learned from the loss of her younger sister.
‘Night to Remember’ featured Titanic survivor from Alabama (AdvanceLocal-Alabama,21 Dec 2018) As the ship slipped under, Gracie jumped into the frigid water, eventually managing to cling to an overturned collapsible lifeboat until he was rescued and taken aboard the Carpathia. He was traumatized and injured, however; his body covered with cuts and bruised. He never fully recovered from the ordeal and died in Dec. 4, 1912. Before he died, he completed a rough manuscript of a book of his experiences called “The Truth about the Titanic.” It was published in 1913.Gracie IV is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in New York. His headstone is etched with the words “Hero of the S.S. Titanic.”
Readers of this blog will note that there are many conspiracy theories out there about Titanic. Some are supernatural while others border on the ludicrous. I saw a headline, mind you a small one in one of the many news feeds I review, that said Jews sank Titanic. I was in a hurry and shook my head and noted to come back to look into it.
The story appeared on Ahram-Canada, an Arab language news website in Canada authored by Ahmed Zaki. It was noticed by the Elder of Ziyon blog which flagged it as antisemitic. The author writes:
The Jewish Freemasons built the giant Titanic ship and charged it with the fictional costs, only to kill three businessmen, who built it with a magnificent construction, to drag them on board, and then sink them into the ocean floor and bury the secret with them for ever. The [businessmen were against] the idea of creating the Federal Reserve! They loved to be rid of them in order to pave the way for the new world order.
You can guess this caused considerable outrage and likely violated Canadian law. The editor,Medhat Oweida,who was running for political office, apologized and removed the article (and others written by the author)from the website. It turns the article originated from a Lebanese newspaper and the author simply added some new items. The outrage appears to have cost the editor his political career for the moment. He claims he was too busy with politics to have seen the article before it was published.
The notion that Jews and Freemasons were involved in conspiracies of one kind or another have been around for centuries. And of course Hitler and the Nazi’s put that to use in their propaganda as well. Sadly it has taken on new life with many today who fall into the trap of believing such nonsense. Kudos to Elder of Ziyon for bringing it to light.
The Feast of the Holy Family was instituted as liturgical celebration of the Roman Catholic Church to venerate the Holy Family–Jesus, Saint Joseph and Blessed Mary–as a model for all Christian families. The feast was first introduced in 1893 by Pope Leo XIII and set on the Sunday after the Epiphany. However in 1969 it was moved to the first Sunday after Christmas to make it part of the Christmas season.
Time to catch up on some Titanic news! Here are some news articles you might be in interested. If you see a news article you think should be noticed here, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Little-Known Titanic Secrets About This Hidden Merseyside Building (Echo, 29 Dec 2018)
The only sign of its illustrious past is the giant Harland & Wolff sign on the outside of the building. But unknown to many, this Bootle site – passed by hundreds of HGV drivers a week on their way to the Port of Liverpool complex – could have links to the ill-fated luxury ocean liner, RMS Titanic. The White Star Line-owned ship, built at Harland & Wolff’s main Belfast production yard and registered in Liverpool, tragically sank to the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean after striking an iceberg on April 15, 1912. Although there is little detailed information about Harland & Wolff’s Liverpool site, it is hought by some that engine parts for the Titanic could have been made there when it was used as a foundry at the turn of the last century. https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/little-known-titanic-secrets-hidden-15542852
The Titanic: 13 Things The Movie Got Wrong (12 They Got Right)(The Travel, 25 Dec 2018) Fortunately for Cameron and his team, the movie went on to be the highest grossing film of all time at the time of its release, breaking just about every single box office record in existence up until that point. It connected with audiences on a scale that few films do, becoming a cinematic sensation through its action-packed ship journey and an epic love story between the two main characters, Jack and Rose, played by a young Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. Here are thirteen things the movie Titanic got wrong and twelve it actually got right. https://www.thetravel.com/things-the-titanic-movie-got-right-wrong-right/
My Titanic job…ship with 40,000 Lego bricks (Daily Express, 21 Dec 2018) Master builder Keith Morton is feeling shipshape after spending almost two years constructing a replica of the Titanic using 40,000 Lego bricks. The 65-year-old has painstakingly placed every brick into the 10ft model of the passenger liner. https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1062392/titanic-lego-model-Keith-Morton
The Discovery Of The Titanic Wreck Was a Front For a Secret U.S. Military Mission (Govexe.com, 18 Dec 2018) While it is true that a team from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution found the Titanic, what was not reported at the time were the conditions put in place by the U.S. Navy—or their involvement with the mission at all. Ballard was not exclusively a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientist, but also a U.S. Navy Commander. The navy would fund the mission, CNN reported, but only if Ballard first explored the USS Thresher and the USS Scorpion, two American nuclear subs that had sunk about 20 years prior. https://www.govexec.com/management/2018/12/discovery-titanic-wreck-was-front-secret-us-military-mission/153629/
You Can Visit The Wreck Of Titanic At The Bottom Of The Atlantic Ocean In 2019 (Lonely Planet, 18 Dec 2018) Plans are in motion to bring people to visit the wreck of RMS Titanic at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean in 2019 as part of six 11-day missions to explore the wreck. Taking part in the Titanic Survey Expedition, which is open to scientists and ‘citizen explorers,’ will cost US$105,129 (£83,537), which is the equivalent of what a first class ticket on Titanic’s maiden voyage would cost now. https://www.lonelyplanet.com/news/2018/12/18/visit-wreck-titanic/
The Replica Ship Titanic II Will Now Set Sail In 2022 (Business Insider, 12 Dec 18) There are many stories out there about the upcoming Titanic II (dubbed by me as Palmer 2.0). We went down this road before. We had lots of press releases, gala events, stories of various suppliers etc. And then it hit the wall. Palmer could not get funding, the shipyard was quiet. Once again they are cranking up the press releases and the media are eating it up. Remember when suddenly out of the blue news articles were pushing Titanic II a couple of years ago by simply regurgitating old news? Well it has that feel again. Any way, here is the article about what Palmer 2.0 will look like etc. https://www.businessinsider.com/titanic-ll-compare-to-the-original-2018-11
To close out this Saturday, here are two Christmas comedy music for your enjoyment. Happy Saturday.
If you remember the Christmas carol Good King Wenceslas you heard the name. Stephen was a deacon in the early Christian church who was accused of blasphemy and put on trial by Jewish authorities in Jerusalem. After a trial in which he denounced them, Stephen was stoned to death. One of the witnesses to the event was Saul of Tarsus, who later converted and is known today as the apostle Paul. Stephen is considered the first martyr for the faith, the reason his feast day immediately follows the celebration of Jesus birth. All the major Christian congregations–Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Orthodox–all venerate him as a Saint and celebrate the feast day (Western churches on 26 December, 27 Dec Orthodox, and 8 Jan Oriental Orthodox). In some countries (mainly Western Europe)it is a public holiday.
In the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand it is celebrated as Boxing Day, a secular holiday that falls on the same day as Feast of Stephen. Traditionally it is the day in which servants and tradespeople receive the “Christmas box” from their employers. While that tradition may still hold true, it is either a second Christmas day for some or an extra shopping day (though in some countries it apparently is a day when a lot of returns to retailers takes place). It is also a major sports day as well.
“….And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!” (Dickens, A Christmas Carol)