Welcome Twelfth Night!

Twelfth Night Traditions: Celebrate Epiphany with Family Activities

Welcome Twelfth Night! Are you familiar with this Christmastime tradition? Commonly celebrated in France (from which our founder Clo hails) Twelfth Night, or Epiphany, is said to celebrate the day the three kings arrived at Jesus’s crib. Typically this day is celebrated on the 5th or 6th of January, depending on the liturgical calendar you observe, and while this isn’t something too commonly observed here in the UK, there are plenty of lovely activities to try out. We think this festival is a wonderful way to round off your Christmas celebrations and get into the swing of the new year. In this post, we’ll share some fun ways to mark the day with your little ones.

Galette des Rois (King or Queen for the day)

A wonderful part of Epiphany celebrations is the Galette des Rois, a part cake, part pastry treat with a hidden surprise inside. Here is a recipe you can follow to make the cake - why not do this with your children while talking about the bible story that inspired the festival (Matthew 2:1-12)? The key element of festivities in this tradition is the inclusion of a small figurine or coin inside the bake. Sometimes this would represent the kings or magi, or sometimes baby Jesus. The idea here is that whoever finds the piece in their slice becomes King or Queen for the day, and is celebrated and honoured as such! Of course, there is a word of warning here that the piece must be too big to choke on or swallow, or you may like to reserve this tradition for when your children can be trusted to search for the piece and not swallow it (or both!).

Plan a play

Many families take the opportunity during this festival to put on a play to represent the procession of the magi, particularly Catholic observant families. We love an excuse for a bit of theatrics - so why not do the same? Create a magical stage with sheets or cardboard boxes, then decorate with stickers and drawings galore. Then, add some dress up - or better yet, make your costumes with items you have lying around - and create a last hoo-rah to say goodbye to the festive season! Children could create their own play tickets and even set up a box office to invite potential play viewers - there’s plenty to add to this fun activity! Why not film the show and look back on it for years to come? 

Window stars 

Another wonderful activity, popular in Steiner Waldorf schools and tradition, is creating window stars to celebrate the season. Create these using tissue paper and black card, and make them as complicated or as simple as you like. You could simply cut out shapes, or do more intricate origami-style folding. Here is a simple tutorial for a rainbow window star which you might like to try with your children.

Shadow puppets

In a similar vein as window stars, shadow puppets are a lovely way to mark this tradition. Simply use lollipop sticks, dowels, or even sticks from your garden, and add these to cut out shapes resembling the three kings. Children can then create a shadow puppet show to mimic the procession of the magi. This could even be the second act of their play from earlier!

Happy festive season!

We trust you have had a wonderful festive season, and just love the thought of Epiphany rounding things off. Nothing quite brings the family together like a bit of dress up, play and crafts - and these activities all fit the bill nicely. We wish you a wonderful 2024 from all of us at Eeny Meeny!

Emily Hanson

Freelance Writer, Education and Play Specialist

Emily Hanson is a freelance writer with specialisms in education and play. Emily holds a PGCE and M.Ed from the University of Cambridge - although her proudest achievements are her two beautiful daughters.

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