And Christmastide 2014-2015 comes to an end. I do hope you enjoyed it these last 12 days! This final post in our mini project pilot, gives us a sort of virtuous baker’s dozen.
If you ever wish to reflect back on these virtues, the quickest way to find it in the archives is via the new “Project: Christmastide” category link now in residence within the right-hand column of the blog.
Project Christmastide: Christmas 2014 – Epiphany 2015
Project introduction: Values or Virtues? Both!
On the 1st day of Christmas: Wonder
On the 2nd day of Christmas: Prayer
On the 3rd day of Christmas: Grace
On the 4th day of Christmas: Gratitude
On the 5th day of Christmas: Faith
On the 6th day of Christmas: Peace
On the 7th day of Christmas: Humor
On the 8th day of Christmas: Hope
On the 9th day of Christmas: Vitality
On the 10th day of Christmas: Freedom
On the 11th day of Christmas: Trust
On the 12th day of Christmas: Joy
Project Index Page and origins: The Twelve Virtues of Aloha.
Epiphany? It’s a bookend of sorts.
I don’t consider myself a religious person, and I’m no longer the ‘practicing Catholic’ I was raised as, which thankfully, my parents and siblings understood and embraced as my own choice in the matter after they’d done their part in introducing me to the option. That said, there’s no denying their ‘introduction’ was quite effective: While I try to temper them, I readily recognize the Christian tendencies in a lot of my writing, and you probably do too.
10+ years later, this still applies, as I’d written in Managing with Aloha within Chapter 1 on the value of Aloha:
“As you read on, I ask you to keep something in mind whenever I use the words “spirit” or “spirituality.” Where I say spirituality, I refer to the spirit within; you could call it the breath of your life, the voice of your soul. For me, the individual religions of the world are merely different expressions people have for their own spirituality within them, and they have made a choice as to who they will honor in their gratefulness. I am not suggesting religiousness; that is your own choice. However I do believe that we should acknowledge our own spirituality and get comfortable with it. One’s inner spiritual power is assumed in the Hawaiian culture, and it is celebrated. In many ways Managing with Aloha is about tapping into the spirit that is inside of you; it embraces your intuition and gut level feelings.”
Today, the celebration of Epiphany is one of my Christian keepers primarily as a calendar marking: ‘Epiphany’ has been noted on January 6th for as long as I can remember, as Three Kings Day, and the morning dawning after the 12th Night. My mom calls it “Ka lā hiki ola for Jesus.” January 6th was the day the nativity créche was put back in keeping for a year, and the Christmas tree was undecorated, chopped up, and put at the curb. Thus Epiphany is the bookend of our project this season, and tomorrow I will have another post up on what we start with next.
For now, and for anyone who wishes to know more about Epiphany from a worldly perspective, I thought this write-up from the Huffington Post last year was quite well done, and as brief as many of the stories and legends will allow. You can read more and see a very interesting slideshow of universal practices here: Epiphany 2014: Dates, Customs, Scripture And History Of ‘Three Kings Day’ Explained with photos. A link-free excerpt:
The Feast of the Epiphany, marking the end of the 12 Days of Christmas and the new season of Epiphany, is observed on Monday, January 6, 2014.
Epiphany — which is variously known as Theophany, Three Kings Day and El Dia de los Tres Reyes — is a Christian celebration of the revelation of the birth of Jesus to the wider world. This is embodied most in the story of three wise men visiting a newborn Jesus with gifts, found in the Gospel of Matthew 2:1-12.
In this story, Magi (wise men) from the east follow a star to Jerusalem, where they ask the presiding king, Herod, what he knows about a newly born “King of the Jews.” This sounds like a challenge to Herod, who gathers his priests to learn where and who is this king. They relay a prophecy that Messiah will be born in Bethlehem, and Herod sends the Magi there, saying: “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” The wise men — Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar — eventually find Mary and her son, Jesus, to whom they bow and worship. The Magi give Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, and then return home, for a dream told them to bypass Herod.
While Roman Catholic and Protestant Christianity focuses on the story of the Magi, Eastern Christians, like the Greek Orthodox, celebrate the baptism of Jesus on Epiphany and consider the day to be more important than Christmas.
Update: Found this morning, wherein Pope Benedict XVI, Epiphany Homily (2011) explains the significance of those Gifts of the Magi:
“They had brought gold, incense and myrrh. These are certainly not gifts that correspond to basic, daily needs. At that moment, the Holy Family was far more in need of something different from incense or myrrh, and not even the gold could have been of immediate use to them.
But these gifts have a profound significance: they are an act of justice. In fact, according to the mentality prevailing then in the Orient, they represent the recognition of a person as God and King, that is, an act of submission.”
This is probably something I did learn a long time ago as a child, but I had forgotten it, and as an adult this has much more meaning to me. I cannot think of a current instance where an act of submission is thought of as a good and glorious event worth so much celebration.
Yet this is our world, and we are the ones who can make it ever better.
Ka lā hiki ola ~ it’s “the dawning of a new day.”