epiphany – 1: January 6 observed as a church festival in commemoration of the coming of the Magi to Jesus in Bethlehem; 2: a sudden striking understanding of something
My friend, Antionette, and her family have a wonderful tradition of celebrating the day of Epiphany. Every Jan. 6 they welcome friends and family into their home to share a meal and to make a wish for the New Year by taking a branch from their Christmas tree and placing it into the fireplace and letting the wish rise up to the Heavens in the smoke.
A number of years ago my family and I were invited to this event for the first time. I always wondered about the history behind it, but never asked because Antionette’s family is a melting pot of culture and I figured it was a tradition that had its roots in one of the many countries she has affiliations with: her father is Portuguese, her Mother is English, she was born in Hong Kong and grew up in California, her husband is from Italy, and her Mother in Law is English.
This past Thursday was the big day and I finally learned a little bit more about the story behind my friend’s celebration. First, there is no ‘official’ or ‘cultural’ tradition of burning a branch of your Christmas tree while making a New Years wish. That tradition was started by Antionette’s Grandparents in Hong Kong one Epiphany night many years ago. Not knowing what to do with their Christmas tree, they burned it and made wishes with their friends for the New Year. Since then the tradition has evolved into burning branches from their tree. (Side note – it is a wonderful way to not let a perfectly good tree go to waste in a landfill). Second, as any good party has – it’s all about the food. Antionette spends hours (and I mean HOURS) creating a traditional English feast of Cornish pasties, bangers, mashed potatoes, etc… This menu is an important part of the whole evening because it honors her English heritage, and my oldest son is especially happy because Antionette makes enough for everyone to take a plate home with them to enjoy again later. Last, before everyone has their moment to place their branch into the fire, a speech is said commemorating the previous year and acknowledging the hope for the next. Antionette’s speech this year was a beautiful tribute to the meaning of the night ~ to be both reflective and prospective.
As I watched my boys place their branches into the fire, and as I put my own in, I thought about our lives and my own ‘Epiphany wish’ for 2011. I reflected on both the incredible highs and incredible lows of 2010, and I realized the exciting prospects ahead for 2011 – both personally and professionally. The definition for the word Epiphany has two parts, the second part being: “a sudden striking understanding of something”. That something for me is the change and growth I am looking forward to in the New Year for both my family and my business. Epiphany is not only a day of celebration, but a clarification and realization to what needs to be done in the future. I am vowing to have a new tradition of making Epiphany wishes on New Years instead of resolutions. Epiphany is about hope, promise, and clarity, what more could you want for the future?! What is your Epiphany wish?