Epiphany? What is it? Why do we celebrate it?
On the Twelfth Day …
In Argentina, the day is called Día de los Reyes or The Day of Kings, commemorating the arrival of the Wisemen. Children leave their shoes by the door, along with grass and water for the Wisemen’s camels. In the morning, they get a present and eat a "Rosca de Reyes," a ring-shaped Epiphany cake while helping put away the family’s Christmas decorations. In the Netherlands, children in groups of three (symbolizing the Wisemen) proceed in costume from house to house carrying a paper lantern and singing songs. They receive a coin or in some areas a Koningentaart puff pastry with a bean or coin hidden inside. Whoever finds the bean is king or queen for the day. In the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the feast is known as Timkat. In Bulgaria and many other eastern European cultures, priests throw a golden cross into a nearby river or lake. Young men then jump into the icy waters to "save" the cross. The person who gets the cross first swims back and returns it to the priest, who then delivers a special blessing to the swimmer and his household. Water blessed on that day is known as "Theophany Water" and is taken home by the faithful, used with prayer as a blessing.