If you’ve been driving around your neighborhood and wondering why those neighbors of yours won’t take down those pesky Christmas lights, then maybe it’s time to lighten up — and be enlightened.
Some Denverites leave their Christmas lights up until the National Western Stock show kicks off — Jan. 7 this year, which as it happens, is the day after the Feast of the Epiphany. Regardless of why one chooses to leave their lights up, the Epiphany is the “OG” reason for keeping Christmas lights up after Christmas — after all, it’s been around for 2,000 years (give or take) while the stock show, great as it is, has only been around for 100.
Perhaps this is an opportunity for us Catholics to share a tidbit of our faith with our neighbors who may be unaware of what the Epiphany is. Something as simple as asking, “Are you leaving your lights up through the Epiphany, too?” could lead to a friendly conversation about why you don’t scramble to take down all your Christmas decorations the day after (besides, of course, the restful laziness and exhaustion that comes with the holidays). It could also be a chance to share how Jesus has changed your life and how you honor him by continuing the Christmas celebration in the days that follow that most wonderful day of the year.
Another way to meaningfully mark the Feast of the Epiphany is to do the traditional Epiphany house blessing that has ancient origins and is growing in popularity around the United States. At Masses during the weekend of the Epiphany, parishes will usually hand out “blessing kits” that include chalk, a small bottle of Holy Water and the written house blessing which parishioners can use. It’s yet another great way to spark a conversation with a passerby about the beautiful traditions of the Catholic faith.
So, by all means, leave those lights up and celebrate a Happy Epiphany! Below is an example of how to do the house blessing:
Begin by having all family members gather outside the front door. All make the sign of the cross. One person will then read this prayer:
Priest/Leader: Peace be to this house.
All: And to all who dwell herein.
Leader: From the east came the Magi to Bethlehem to adore the Lord; and opening their treasures they offered precious gifts: gold for the great King, incense for the true God, and myrrh in symbol of His burial.
Enter your home and read the Magnificat, the hymn of praise sung by the Blessed Virgin Mary in Luke’s Gospel after being greeted by Elizabeth. During this, sprinkle the area you are in with holy water. After that is complete:
All: From the east came the Magi to Bethlehem to adore the Lord; and opening their treasures they offered precious gifts: gold for the great King, incense for the true God, and myrrh in symbol of His burial.
Leader: Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead and lead us not into temptation,
All: But deliver us from evil.
Leader: All they from Saba shall come
All: Bringing gold and frankincense.
Leader: O Lord, hear my prayer.
All: And let my cry come unto Thee.
Leader: Let us pray. O God, who by the guidance of a star didst on this day manifest Thine only-begotten Son to the Gentiles, mercifully grant that we who know Thee by faith may also attain the vision of Thy glorious majesty. Through Christ our Lord.
Leader: Be enlightened, be enlightened, O Jerusalem, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee– Jesus Christ born of the Virgin Mary.
All: And the Gentiles shall walk in thy light and kings in the splendor of thy rising, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon thee.
Leader: Let us pray. Bless, O Lord God almighty, this home, that in it there may be health, purity, the strength of victory, humility, goodness and mercy, the fulfillment of Thy law, the thanksgiving to God the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. And may this blessing remain upon this home and upon all who dwell herein. Through Christ our Lord.
After the prayers are recited, walk throughout your home sprinkling each room with holy water. Then write the initials of the Magi connected with crosses at the top of your front door. Then the numbers of the year. The numbers will be split so that they are on each side of the initials.
Here’s an example:
20 + C + M + B + 22
This tradition is done at the beginning of each year so that you can invite God into your homes and place your family under his protection.