The Christmas season is a season of celebration. The Church celebrates many important feasts during this time. Epiphany is one of the many important feasts during the Christmas season. The word epiphany comes from the Greek Epiphania, meaning “revelation.” The Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord, which is celebrated by Catholics in the United States on the Sunday between January 2 and January 8, marks the journey of the Magi to pay homage to the Holy Child Jesus. Use the free activities, reflections, prayer cards, and handouts in this article to celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany with children in your parish or school. Downloads available in English and Spanish.
When is Epiphany?
The traditional date of Epiphany is January 6, but in the United States it is celebrated on the Sunday between January 2 and January 8. This year, Epiphany is celebrated on January 6.
What do we celebrate?
At Epiphany, the Church celebrates the manifestation of the Son of God as the Savior and Messiah. Also called Three Kings Day, at Epiphany we recall the visit of the Magi to the newborn Jesus: “And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:9–12) The epiphany, or showing, of Jesus teaches us that Jesus’ coming into the world was important to the whole world and that the Good News of Jesus Christ is meant for everyone!
How do we celebrate?
There are many customs and ways to mark the feast of the Epiphany. In Orthodox traditions, the traditional feast day (January 6) marks the celebration of the birth of Christ. In many cultures, the Epiphany marks a “little Christmas”, one celebrated with gift-giving and the sharing of special foods.
No matter when or how it is celebrated, the Epiphany is steeped with meaning for those seeking enlightenment. The image of three astrologers following a bright star across the darkened landscape is one of hope and promise. Their journey ends, not in a palace, but in a humble dwelling. Theirs is a story of surprise and wonder, of unexpected blessings and challenging encounters.
Feast of the Epiphany for Children (Printable Resources)
#1 Epiphany Activity
As you prepare your religious education classrooms for the season of Christmas, download an Epiphany Activity to celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord. Since a star guided the magi to the place where Jesus was, the activity features a star on which children write ways they can be a light to others. The activity is ideal for children in the primary and intermediate grades.
To plan and implement the Epiphany Activity, make a copy of the activity sheet for each child. You’ll need the following materials:
- A copy of the activity sheet for each child
- Pencil for each child
- Wallet-sized photo of each child
- Art materials including glitter and glue; scissors
Distribute the activity sheets. Have children cut out and affix their photos in the stars as instructed. If you’d prefer not to use photos, the children may draw a self-portrait instead. Ask children to brainstorm and then write ways that they can be a light to others on the points of the star. Provide assistance if needed. Then provide glitter, glue, and art materials such as markers and crayons, for the children to color or decorate the stars. Encourage the children to display their stars at home as a reminder to share the light of Jesus with others.
This activity will especially appeal to children who are visual/spatial and intrapersonal learners. As an extension activity, bring the children together to discuss ways they can be a light to others as a class or a group. The download is available in English or Spanish.
#2 Epiphany Prayer Service
Use the Epiphany Activity in conjunction with the We Celebrate the Epiphany Prayer Service. This experience helps participants focus on Jesus as the light of our lives and combines song, Scripture, and art in prayer. The second page of the download includes a reproducible master for children to color and cut out before the prayer service. Prayer service available in English or Spanish.
#3 Ways to Mark the Three Kings Day
On the feast of Epiphany, take the time to read and reflect on Scripture. Bake a traditional “King’s Cake” with a hidden trinket, like those made in Mexico, Spain, France, and Germany to share with family, friends, or your class. Consider the gifts you have been given and the gifts you give. The 5 Ways to Mark Three Kings Day Reflection is a resource that can be used to spark ideas for everyone celebrating the Epiphany. Reflection available in English or Spanish.
#4 Celebration of Epiphany Event
Bring students and parishioners of all ages together to learn about and share their faith during a special Celebration of Epiphany Event. seasonal event. With this event will help participants understand the meaning of Epiphany, learn the different manifestations that are represented in the accounts of Christmas, and recognize Epiphany as a special time to support the work of the missions and name specific ways to bring this supportive response to action. Access all the event details and printable handouts in English or Spanish.
#5 Prayer for Epiphany
During the Feast of the Epiphany let us offer the best we have unto God and to all others and experience that special moment when the Three Wise Men visited the Baby Jesus with their valuable gifts. Download the Prayer for Epiphany and share it with your family. Prayer card available in English or Spanish.
#6 Special Gift Prayer
The Three Wise Men were enlightened men who honored and worshiped Jesus when He was born and manifested to us the divine kingship of Our Lord. Download the Special Gift Prayer Card and share it with your family. Prayer card available in English and Spanish.
As you recall the visit of the Magi to the newborn Jesus on January 6 with your own Epiphany celebrations, remember and share the opportunity to reflect the light of Christ!