Observe a non-traditional Epiphany celebration with these simple and meaningful ideas

A non-Traditional Epiphany Celebration

For years I had a desire to observe the holiday of Epiphany.

For years January 6th passed us by as just another ordinary day.

Every year, by the time Christmas had come and gone I was DONE. Filled to the brim on special treats and ready to put all the Christmas clutter away. Burned out on all the activities and ready to switch gears to something different.

Plus, I could just never find a way to observe the day that seemed to work for our family. We wanted to celebrate… but how?

Two years ago I finally had an epiphany (I had to) and since then we have enjoyed a simple and meaningful, albeit untraditional, celebration.

However, before we get to that, lets back up just a bit…

three wise men and nativity set

What is Epiphany?

Epiphany, observed on January 6th at the end of the traditional 12 Days of Christmas, is the day to celebrate that Jesus came for all people. Specifically, how that is displayed in his being revealed to the wise men who came “from the east.”

The good news of Jesus – God with us – is not just for Israel, not just for the elite, the powerful, the special, or the holy. The good news of Jesus is “for all the people.” That is what we celebrate on Epiphany.

Some of the traditional Epiphany celebrations include: an Epiphany Eve feast (the “Twelfth Night”), King Cake, gifts, Epiphany blessings, and parties.

Two Non-Traditional Epiphany Celebration Ideas

A couple years back, as I was once again pondering how to make an Epiphany celebration work for our family, it dawned on me…

The meaning and heart of Epiphany is what matters.

What I really wanted was to be able to embrace a tradition that celebrates an important message – Jesus is for all people. So, inspired by this freedom, we began two traditions that are fun and meaningful, yet also flexible enough to allow me to do a little or a lot depending on the year.

These two non-traditional Epiphany celebration ideas are the Wandering Wisemen and a World Culture Celebration.

toy wisemen searching for baby Jesus

Wandering Wisemen

The first non-traditional Epiphany celebration is one that I first saw as a Christmas alternative to Elf on the Shelf. Each day, you move the wisemen from your nativity set to a different location until they reach baby Jesus. Instead of doing this for the 25 days leading up to Christmas, I thought it would fit even better in the 12 days between Christmas and Epiphany.

This can be as simple or elaborate as you want to make it and is a great way to introduce your kids to how the wisemen saw a star when Jesus was born and set out to find him.

If you are interested in trying out this tradition but don’t have any creative brainpower left after Christmas (I don’t blame you!), I have compiled a free resource to help! In the printable packet, you will find ideas for your wisemen for each of the twelve days and everything else you need for completing the ideas!

image of wandering wisemen printable

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image saying "celebrate epiphany by learning about world cultures"

World Culture Celebration

What a better time than Epiphany to learn more about another part of the world and celebrate all the beautiful differences in culture that are to be found. Jesus came for all peoples in all corners of the world! There are no divisions or partiality in Christ! Every person the world over is loved by God and is our neighbor, to be loved by us as well. This is our favorite non-traditional Epiphany celebration.

While we love to learn about different cultures all throughout the year, for Epiphany we like to choose a specific country to learn about and celebrate. Here are some simple ways to do this:

  • Read books
  • Watch videos on YouTube
  • Look at pictures online
  • Find the country on a map
  • Listen to music from that country
  • Do a craft

And our favorite, the way we finish off our celebration on Epiphany, eat food from that country! This could be as simple as something from the frozen section of the grocery or take out, to working together to make an authentic feast!

It is really easy to build on this tradition or keep it simple if its a busy season that year!

If you need help with ideas to learn about other countries, some great options I’ve come across are:

Scriptures for your Celebration

Read these 13 scriptures on the 12 days leading up to Epiphany and on Epiphany itself. Printable scripture cards available to Steadfast Family newsletter subscribers in the subscriber resource library (subscribe below).

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” – Luke 2:10 ESV

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” – Matthew 2:1-2 ESV

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. – Galatians 3:28 ESV

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. – Romans 3:22 NLT

Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. – Romans 3:29-30 NIV

The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. – 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 NLT

Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith. – Galatians 3:14 NLT

For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. – Ephesians 2:12-14 ESV (This whole section is on the same topic)

Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. -Colossians 3:11 NIV

For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. – Romans 10:12

He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” – Isaiah 49:6 NASB

I have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared for all people.
He is a light to reveal God to the nations
and he is the glory of your people Israel!”
-Luke 2:30-32 NLT

“I am the LORD, and there is no other,
besides me there is no God;
I equip you, though you do not know me,
that people may know, from the rising of the sun
and from the west, that there is none besides me;
I am the LORD, and there is no other…
Turn to me and be saved,
all the ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other.”
-Isaiah 24:5-6, 22

Good News for All People

Whether you celebrate in a traditional way, try our traditions, or make up your own celebrations, one thing is for sure: the message of Epiphany is one that is worth celebrating.

If you celebrate, I’d love to know what you do! Drop a comment below.

To see behind the scenes of our Epiphany celebration and other glimpses into life with four boys, come follow Steadfast Family on Instagram.

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