Here are some fun and interesting ways that this important feast is celebrated throughout the world:
1) “Women’s Christmas”
Also known as “Little Christmas,” in Ireland Epiphany is a day that women take off from work to rest and celebrate for themselves after all the work of the Christmas holidays. Women gather together in pubs without men for special meals and wine (in commemoration of the Wedding at Cana miracle, of course!). Women also receive gifts from their children and grandchildren. (How do we bring this tradition to more places??)
Following the divine liturgy for Epiphany (also called Theophany), the priest leads the congregation to a nearby body of water with a wooden cross. The priest throws the cross into the water as a blessing for the water. People then dive into the water and try to recover the cross. Whoever successfully brings the cross back to the priest gets a special blessing for him and his family.
3) Horo band
In Kalofer, Bulgaria, before the priest throws the cross into the icy water for people to retrieve, a special band made up of bagpipes and drums plays in the icy water. Since it’s so cold, it’s considered an honorable thing to participate!
4) King Cakes
In New Orleans, Louisiana (and elsewhere in the world), people make (or buy) special round cakes called King Cakes. Inside the cake, a little token is hidden somewhere. Whoever gets the piece with the token gets to wear the crown that comes with the cake! They are also responsible for providing the next King Cake…
5) “Trick-or-Treating” for Nuts and Cookies
In the western part of Slovenia, children go door to door and receive nuts, figs, cookies, or other treats to celebrate Epiphany.
6) Ice baths
In Russia, it is believed that all water becomes holy on this day and has special powers. People will go to frozen lakes and rivers, cut holes in the shape of a cross, and then bathe in the ice-cold water. Some people will dip themselves three times, one dip for each person of the Trinity. The tradition has become so organized that in some places lifeguards are posted to help anyone who gets in trouble.
7) Predicting who will get married
Folk wisdom in Romania claims that if a girl slips and falls on ice on Epiphany, she will definitely get married in the coming year.
In Latvia, if you hear a dog barking on Epiphany, you are supposed to look in that direction for your future spouse. (If only it was that easy!)
8) An early April Fool’s Day
In England, Epiphany is traditionally a day for playing practical jokes and pranks on your family and friends.