Sunday, 6 January 2008

Epiphany or Hey, I'm the King!

In Patisseries all over Paris there are "galettes des rois" being sold. Today is the Fête des Rois, the day that commemorates the three Wise Men's visit to the baby Jesus. Alerted that a king had been born, the wise men followed the brightest star and were guided to the famous baby for whom they had brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

French tradition is that families share a galette des rois, which here in Paris is a pastry filled with almond frangipane, and inside is a hidden bean. The person who discovers the bean in their cake becomes the king. If you recall what happens to the "king" Jesus, you better hope the bean is in someone else's cake.

This day is also called 12th night, as the wise men discovered the baby Jesus 12 days after his birth. It is also called the epiphany, which is a word that is often overused. People report having an "epiphany" over getting closure in a decision, finally being able to see something clearly, or simply realizing something totally mundane. Some people do report having life changing "epiphanies".

My question is, how did this epiphany business get wrapped up in the visit of three foreign men to a famous baby? Did they have epiphanies after walking through the desert following a bright star for 12 nights? Did they have epiphanies when they realized that their gifts were kind of silly? Or did they have a group epiphany when they realized during their long walk that they had all gone through a similar situation in their youth, say being picked last for the fishing team. Who knows? Maybe you do, but I'm going to see what I can find out. Stay tuned...

Okay, that was quick- let's hear it for the Internet. Apparently the epiphany was that the baby Jesus was revealed as Lord or King. Another take is that epiphany is when God is revealed as a person. I guess this could be that God is revealed as the baby Jesus, or maybe it means that this was a sign that God is in all humans. I like that idea.

It's kind of like the yoga term "Namasté" which means the divine in me salutes the divine in you. In this case, being that we are in the country of “liberté, égalité and fraternité”, it seems that we should all then receive a bean in our galette des rois to celebrate the divine in us all. But I guess this is a bit too far from the original Christian tradition.

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