Tag Archives: Twelfth Night

Today is twelfth night

The King cake is a tradition of many Twelfth Night feasts.
Photo: public domain

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.


Today is Epiphany Day

Wise Men Adoration(Bartolomé Esteban Murillo,1618-1682)
Photo: Public Domain (Wikipedia)

Epiphany Day occurs on 6 January and marks the end of the Christmas season except for the Orthodox Christians who follow the Julian calendar. In England it is celebrated as the Twelfth Night (remember the song the Twelve Days of Christmas). Many cultures celebrate it with special foods and it is considered unlucky by many to leave Christmas decorations up after the Epiphany. The Roman Catholic Church celebrates it on 6 Jan but not as a day of obligation. Usually it is celebrated in a Sunday mass that falls before or just after the date (2-8 January).


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Today is Epiphany Day

Wise Men Adoration(Bartolomé Esteban Murillo,1618-1682)
Photo: Public Domain (Wikipedia)

Epiphany Day occurs on 6 January and marks the end of the Christmas season except for the Orthodox Christians who follow the Julian calendar. In England it is celebrated as the Twelfth Night (remember the song the Twelve Days of Christmas). Many cultures celebrate it with special foods and it is considered unlucky by many to leave Christmas decorations up after the Epiphany. The Roman Catholic Church celebrates it on 6 Jan but not as a day of obligation. Usually it is celebrated in a Sunday mass that falls before or just after the date (2-8 January).


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Epiphany Sunday

Wise Men Adoration(Bartolomé Esteban Murillo) Photo: Public Domain (This media file is in the public domain in the United States. This applies to U.S. works where the copyright has expired, often because its first publication occurred prior to January 1, 1923.)
Wise Men Adoration(Bartolomé Esteban Murillo)
Photo: Public Domain

Epiphany Day occurs on 6 January and marks the end of the Christmas season except for Orthodox Christians who follow the Julian calendar. In England it is celebrated as the Twelfth Night (remember the song the Twelve Days of Christmas?). Many cultures celebrate it with special foods and it is considered unlucky by many to leave Christmas decorations up after the Epiphany. The Roman Catholic Church celebrates it on 6 Jan but not as a day of obligation. Usually it is celebrated in a Sunday mass that falls before or just after the date (2-8 January).