As we meditate on the scenes of Christmas, we see a peaceful scene of Joseph, Mary, and the Baby Jesus in a stable. Soon they were visited by shepherds with their sheep from the nearby hills. It was to these poor Jewish shepherds that the heavenly host of angels gave the first manifestation, or epiphany, of the birth of our Savior.
In 2022 in the Church calendar, we celebrate the Epiphany to the Magi from the East on Sunday, January 2. The Magi were Gentiles who studied the stars and sacred texts that led them to this miraculous birth. The Epiphany to the Magi was a sign that God’s Only Begotten Son would be a Savior to all the nations.
Traditionally, in Latin countries, we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany, Fiesta de los Reyes Magnos (“Feast of the Magi”) on January 6. It is on that day that families move the statues of the three Kings—Melchor, Gaspar, and Baltasar—closer into the stable, bringing their gifts of myrrh, gold, and incense to present to the Infant King. Children of the family receive their gifts on that day and, on the night before, they leave out hay for the camels to eat. Families share in Roscón de Reyes or King's Ring, a ring-shaped cake decorated with fruits symbolizing the precious gems that adorned the royal trio’s lavish clothing. This is the first of the Mardi Gras celebrations ending with the last happening on Shrove Tuesday.
At One to One Learning, since so many of our students are from Latin countries, we have made it our custom to celebrate this Feast with our students. Coming back from their Christmas break, we have La Fiesta de los Reyes Magnos (last celebrated in January 2020 due to COVID) during which students and teachers share native foods that they have prepared. Children receive bags of games, toys, and clothing that many of our friends provide. Adults receive gifts too. During the celebration, we pray for all who have been so generous in gifting us. We also pray for the safety of the many families who remain in the countries that they left behind. Traditionally, as we sing Noche de Paz (“Silent Night”), we have a procession of the children and infants in their mothers’ arms, who carry the statues from the Presebre (manger) as well as flowers for Niño Jesus. Hopefully, this custom will continue in January 2023. This year, our friends have made it possible for us to continue giving gifts to the children.
Let us be aware of all the epiphany moments in our lives by being more mindful of our relationships and of sharing meaningful time and space. Let us be aware of God’s presence, within us, around us, in all those we meet, and in all creation.
May 2022 be a year of peace and good health for all.
– Sister Cecilia LaPietra, OP
Sister Cecilia is the founder and Executive Director of One to One Learning, a literacy program for immigrants.