Friday, January 11, 2008

Ethiopian Christmas aka Epiphany

This time last year, we were just welcoming home our newly arrived Ethiopian children when the full blown Americanized version of Christ's birth hit them square between the eyes. In an effort to minimize this secular holiday bombardment, we went about celebrating the season in our typical quiet (okay, friends, I use the term quiet loosely when referring to the Ark) family way. But knowing that in Ethiopia, Christmas was celebrated on the Epiphany we purposefully transitioned some of our traditional Christmas customs to January. It was one of those times when I thought I was doing something so great and wonderful for my children, but, in the end, the one who really benefited from this change was me. I had, if you'll pardon the pun, my own little epiphany about the whole season and the ebb and flow of the Christmas season at large in the Church.
So this year, we made certain to repeat some of our Epiphany activities from last year, and the favorite one (I'm thinking because fire was involved and the Boy, fresh off his altar serving tour, came match in hand ready to help).

Here below, you can see the pictures of our house blessing, whose tradition commemorates the visit of the Magi to the humble dwelling of the Lord. With the blessing, we show our desire for the protection and the presence of Jesus in our homes, and our intent to reflect God's openness and hospitality to others.

Gather the family at home to share this home blessing:

Let us pray: O Lord, almighty God, bless this house that it may become a shelter of health, chastity, self-control, humility, goodness, mildness, obedience to your Commandments, and thanksgiving to God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Upon this house and those who dwell here may your blessing remain forever, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Here is the blessing that was read by B, at the main doorway of the house, while the Boy marked the slate:

Let us pray: O Lord, God, through the power of the priest you blessed this chalk to make it helpful for us your people. Grant that we who use it with faith and write with it the names of the saints--Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar--upon the entrance of our home, may through their merits and petitions enjoy physical health and spiritual protection, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

On the slate write the year and the initials of the names of the Magi, separated by crosses, in this manner:

20 + C + M + B + 08

Once all of that has happened, then comes everyone's favorite part. Together, we walk through the entire house, carrying the incense to bless each room. Usually the older kids take turns holding the incense (It gets VERY hot!), but we do help each of the little ones to bless their rooms. The smell of the incense is mild, but just strong enough to linger in the air for the rest of the evening, reminding each of us of the great gifts we have been given and the responsibility we have to share them with those around us.


Therese said...

What a great way to celebrate the epiphany Jane. Definitely keeping this one in mind for next year.

patjrsmom said...

Thanks, Therese and I LOVE your new picture!!!

God Bless,

Lisa@UnexpectedJourney said...

What a beautiful tradition.I'm going to make a point to do this next year! I like your pictures, especially the last one showing the your little one being led by big sister! That's very sweet!

Eileen said...

This is just so beautiful, Jane.

Easter A. said...

Jane, what a beautiful sharing! We did our blessing at home too, but didn't think of using the camera... I will make an effort to use my camera more often now. Jane, thank you for your inspiration!

God bless you and your family abundantly!