The 6th January is the Feast of the Epiphany or the Three Kings Day. Some countries around the world celebrate by having processions, ceremonies, nativity plays, and carnivals. In Spanish speaking countries children receive gifts on this day rather than on Christmas Day as the three kings deliver gifts not Santa Claus. Jesus had received the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
The Magi (3 wise men) were people with tremendous faith, willing to walk together to show that they did not agree with the ruling class. They expressed self-confidence and a desire for more meaning in life by following the star. These attitudes urged them to read the signs of the times and to venture into the unknown. They humbly believed there was more wisdom in the world than they had yet discovered. Thus, they set off on what became the first Christian pilgrimage from the East.
Today, we see signs of a similar disquiet when people are re-evaluating their lives, their faith and all that previously was the norm. Many people have changed their jobs in order to get a better work life balance, others have discovered new talents and skills brought on by the pause in life during the pandemic and many have discovered a deeper and stronger faith.
In his book, Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future, Pope Francis shares ideas which suit the Feast of the Epiphany. He describes our time as a change of epoch, not simply a time of change. He says that this change, ‘accelerated by the coronavirus, is a propitious moment for reading the signs of the times’. Avoiding the trap of easy answers, Pope Francis says, ‘A gap has opened up between the realities and challenges we face and the recipes and solutions available to us. That gap becomes a space in which to reflect, question, and dialogue’.
Therefore the Magi are models. Inspired by the gap between their knowledge and their hopes, they set out to seek meaning that their lives had not yet given them. They reflected together on the signs of their times and sought wisdom from foreigners, confident that truth from another quarter would only add to the truth they already understood. Let us share the Magi’s humble curiosity, courage and confidence so that we too can seek, find and follow Christ in our world.
Nollaig na mBan
On January 6, Nollaig na mBan, also known as Little Christmas or Women’s Christmas is celebrated. It is a tradition from the Ireland of the last century but is making a revival. On this day, women traditionally got a much-needed rest after catering for everyone during the holiday festivities
It was most commonly held in the west of Ireland and women gathered together,
having a cup of tea, the last of the Christmas Cake and a chat. Most of all it was the day, as a woman that you would do something for yourself and have a rest after all the Christmas work. I think a wholesale revival of this tradition would be a great idea!