Three Kings Day Celebrations in USA
By Grace Bailey
Epiphany, more widely known in the United States as Three Kings Day, is celebrated on the sixth of January, exactly twelve days after Christmas.
It marks the visit of the three wise men to the newborn baby Jesus. It is not a public holiday throughout the entire USA, but in the Virgin Islands, however, it is observed as such. The celebrations over there are in order for the people to emphasis their Latin American culture and heritage. Businesses, government offices and shops are closed, as some close as early as the day before the actual holiday. The biggest celebrations happen on the island of St Croix, where are different types of entertainment such as parades, music, bands, food feasts, etc. Even though Three Kings Day is not an official public holiday, the Christian population of the States observe it through activities like:
– The Sunday closest to the sixth of January features star processionals for church services.
– People organize small parties, get-togethers in order to clean up their homes after the Christmas celebrations and to put away all of the decorations.
– There are so-called ‘hunts’ for the figure of the baby Jesus.
– Churchgoers set up Epiphany celebrations and luncheons.
– There are also a lot of children activities in the Sunday schools. They, of course, emphasize on Epiphany. One of them is creating the Bethlehem star, the star which showed the Three Wise Men the way to the Christ child.
People in Colorado mark Epiphany by the Great Fruitcake Toss. The name of the event suggests what consists of throwing fruitcakes. The ones participating, dress up as fools, kings, etc. The competitions are not only for the farthest throw, but also for the most original projectile device. Just like other countries’ customs and celebrations, the fruitcake toss is a way of bidding farewell to the Christmas holidays.
The Carnival season in Louisiana begins on Epiphany. According to the custom, King Cakes must be baked. The cake is round, rich in cinnamon and covered in color sanding sugar. Each cake contains a trinket, representing the baby Jesus. The person that happens to find the small figurine has to provide next year’s King Cake. The period known as ‘king cake season’ is the interval between Three Kings Day and Mardi Gras. The first carnivals and processions are on the day of Epiphany, when a lot of king cakes are sold and consumed. There is also a big number of carnival krewes.
As already noted, Epiphany in Colonial Virginia (or 12th, as they also call it) is a time of great joy and merriment. It is considered as a day, especially appropriate for balls and weddings. For example, first US president George Washington married his wife Martha on January 6, 1759. The so called Great Cake, which consists of two huge layers of fruitcakes, is prepared on the 12th Night. It is filled and coated with royal icing. As strange as it may sound, the youngest child is supposed to cut and serve the Great Cake. There is a bean in the cake and whoever finds it is crowned “King of the Bean”.
The city of Tarpon Springs in Florida is famous for its religious ceremonies, associated with the Greek Orthodox Church. The most notable one is the celebration on Epiphany. The one who presides over the blessing is the Metropolitan Bishop of Atlanta. Sometimes, he is also joined with the American Archbishop. The ceremony concludes with the throwing of a small cross into the local Spring Bayou. Boys aged 16 to 18 dive into the waters in attempt to retrieve the cross. The one who manages to do that is believed to be blessed throughout the whole year. Tarpon Springs is nicknamed Epiphany City.
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