Feast of Epiphany is Today

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Tradition has it that this celebration of the arrival of the wise men brought an abundance of food & hospitality.  This is the first year that all our kids are gone for a Feast of Epiphany.  In the past, we have celebrated Epiphany for several years with a special meal.   I found an article about the Epiphany feast and the symbolism used in the past, so I’ve followed their menu.  It’s an Italian meal with cheese appetizers, pasta & sausage dishes, as well as oranges & cenci for dessert.  I’ve used this menu for most of our feasts.

Oranges are a symbol of sunlight which reminds us of the Star of Bethlehem, the light that guided the Wise Men to our Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ.  Epiphany is the holiday of light when the Star of Bethlehem led the Magi to Christ!

star of bethlehem

Why celebrate Epiphany or the Arrival of the Magi?

Epiphany means to “show” or “reveal”.  The wise men were the first ones to worship Jesus as King & Lord.  They were Gentiles recognizing Jesus Christ as King, the first ones to reveal Jesus to a wider world as incarnate Christ (from CRI)

Matthew 2 can be read at your dinner table tonight.

 

Another tradition I found:

The custom of the Star Singers, reminiscent of the travel of the Three Kings is still very much alive in Bavaria and Austria. Beginning with New Years and through January 6, children dressed as the kings, and holding up a large star, go from door to door, caroling and singing a Three Kings’ song. For this they receive money or sweets. Formerly the collected donations went to unemployed craftsmen and veterans, today they go to charities of the church or the Third World.  (from 3 Kings Day)

 

Our Christmas Dinner

Christmas, Quick & Easy Meals No Comments

Traditionally, we eat a nice meal on Christmas Eve after our Christmas Eve service.
On Christmas morning we have pull-apart bread and eat leftovers the rest of the day.

This year was different.
Steve got a turkey fryer for Christmas, so I had a turkey (& propane tank) ready to go.
It took less than 2 hours to cook a 13 pound turkey…Quick & Easy!
He had so much fun cooking, that he has already
bought some marinades to try on his next “frying”.

Ready & waiting!

Christmas Rolls

activities, Christmas, Keeping My Home No Comments

For our Christmas Eve meal, we generally have my homemade bread.  Christmas is the only time I make my bread, so it’s a treat.  This year, I decided to take the dough and make rolls.  Here’s what I did.  You can easily do the same thing with pop out of the can biscuit dough.

Dough is rising (or popping out of the can :-)

Kids can do this part. Roll dough/biscuit into 12 inch roll.
I kept flour nearby so the dough wouldn’t stick to my hand.

Form roll into knot.

Place on baking sheet.
Bake at 400 about 10-15 minutes or until golden

Brush with olive oil mixture
Olive oil, Garlic powder, Parmesan cheese, Italian seasonings

Mrs. Santa’s Party Mix

activities, Christmas, Keeping My Home No Comments

I wanted to make a new party mix with “Santa hats”.
Unfortunately, I could not find red melting candy disks before Christmas.
So I dyed my white candy coating with red (from Wiltons).
Since it was pink, I decided I would have Mrs. Santa hats ;-)

This is a fun activity that even young kids can do…
dipping bugles into white sprinkles or mixing the ingredients together.
And it is yummy!

Spread bugles on wax paper

Dip bugles into melted candy

Forgot to take a photo, but here’s what I did:
Once candy is set on bugle, dip end in red melted candy and
immediately into white sprinkles.
Dip tip of bugle in melted candy and then into mini marshmallow.
Voila: Santa hats!

Mix 3 cups mini pretzels, 2 cups rice chex, 1/2 – 1 cup raisins and 1 cup cashews.
Melt white chocolate and stir together.

Add red & green M&M’s. Mix together.

Add Santa hats and gently stir.

Adapted from Pinterest
http://pinterest.com/kerrybeck/

Christmas Goodies – Candy Cane Kiss Brownies

Christmas, Keeping My Home No Comments

I had so much fun baking on Christmas Eve, as I tried several new recipes from Pinterest.
If you are not familiar with Pinterest, take a look at my account
http://pinterest.com/kerrybeck/
If you want to start your own account, let me know & I’ll send you an invitation.
But beware…it’s quite addicting.

Check out what I baked . . .

Dessert for Christmas Eve Dinner:

Candy Cane Kiss Brownies

Fill mini-muffin pans with brownie mix. Spray generously!

Push candy cane kiss in middle of each brownie. Cover with more brownie dough.

Make chocolate topping by melting 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and adding 2Tbsp heavy cream. Crunch up peppermint pieces or candy canes. I wish I had smashed these into smaller pieces.

Spread chocolate topping and sprinkle peppermint on top.

These are so rich, you can only eat one!

On the first day of Christmas…

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On the Christian calendar, yesterday was the first day of Christmas. The church celebrates the 12 days of Christmas, after Christmas…not before as many Americans do. You can teach Biblical truths to your children throughout these 12 days.  Here’s a little background to get started.

12 days of christmas

People often think of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas as the days preceding the festival.  Actually, Christmas is a season of the Christian Year that lasts for the twelve days beginning December 25 and lasting until January 6 – the Day of Epiphany, when the
church celebrates the revelation of Christ as the Light of the world and recalls the journey of the magi.

Every day, from December 25 to January 6, was traditionally a part of the Yuletide celebration. Dedicated to mercy and compassion—each day was noted by selfless giving and tender charity. In many cultures, gift giving was not concentrated on a single day, but rather, as in the famous folk song, spread throughout the entire season.

After some research I discovered something I never knew about the 12 Days of Christmas song.  From 1558 until 1829 the Church in England was not allowed to practice their faith openly. During that era ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas was written as a catechism that could be sung in public without the risk of persecution. ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas is, in essence, an allegory. The song has two levels of interpretation: the surface meaning and the meaning known only to members of the Church.

Each element in the carol is a word for a religious reality.  Some families give small presents each day to their children to help them understand the Biblical truths.  To start off…

The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ the most precious gift of God.

Example of a gift on day one: Start a Nativity for each child.   Start with the stable and add a new piece each year until the Nativity is complete.  Save the crèche and baby Jesus for the last two pieces.  (If you have a small child, you might give a cloth Nativity, toy Nativity, or storybooks of the Nativity).  If you continue this tradition, your children will have Nativity collections for their homes
one day.

In my book, Advent, Christmas & Epiphany Celebrations, you can read about all 12 days of Christmas and gift suggestions for each.  This week only, you can get our entire package on sale at this link:

http://www.ChristmasCelebrationIdeas.com/celebrate

The SALE PRICE will show up on the order form on the next page.  Click “Add to Cart” and you’ll see the SALE PRICE.

St Stephen’s Day & King Wenceslas

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Today is St. Stephen’s Day, in honor of Stephen the first martyr of the Christian faith.   This morning we read his story in Acts 6, 7, & 8.

Stephen was killed because of his convictions about the revelation of Christ in the world.  Indeed, according to the Book of Acts, he was the very first martyr of the Christian faith.  For centuries, Christians have remembered his faithfulness on the day after Christmas, December 26.  It is a day for selfless care for the needy, the despised, and the unloved

Today is also commemorated as an official holiday in Britain (and Canada as my middle daughter told me one year) as Boxing Day.  When my kids were young, they thought this was a celebration of those who box as a sport.  They were surprised at the true meaning of Boxing Day.

On this day, churches are “boxing” up food to be delivered to the needy, and in days gone by were given to servants from their employers.  The spirit of Wenceslas is demonstrated so that the entire community may celebrate with joy the manifestation of the Good News.

King Wenceslaus

If you don’t know about King Wenceslas’ generous spirit to his people, take time today and read his story.  You can start by reading or singing the song about him. You’ll notice the setting is St Stephen’s Day.

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the Feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about,
Deep & crisp & even;
Brightly shone the moon that night,
Though the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight,
Gathering winter fuel.

Christmas Holiday Movies

Christmas No Comments

Holiday Inn

Last week Steve & I watched my favorite Christmas movie, Holiday Inn. When my kids (who live on their own here in town) found out, they couldn’t believe we had watched Holiday Inn without them. I was told. “we always watch that movie together”. Even my 18yo son felt this way.

So, tonight they are all coming over to bake & decorate Christmas cookies and watch Holiday Inn. We’ll have 2 traditions in one night…and all of them can join us.

Some of my other favorite holiday movies are:

White Christmas

A Christmas Carol

You've Got Mail

Haven’t seen Miracle on 34th Street in years. Maybe we’ll watch it tomorrow.

Miracle on 34th Street

My son’s favorite Christmas movie. Hopefully he’s already watched it because his sisters aren’t so fond of it.

Elf movie

 

What are your family favorite Christmas movies?

 

Advent Activities: Christmas Books for Kids & Adults

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What are you reading this week before Christmas?

Any good Christmas books for kids or adults you would suggest?

Are you preparing your heart for the celebration of Christ’s birth this Sunday?

Shepherds Abiding Jan Karon

Personally, I’m reading Shepherds Abiding, by Jan Karon. It’s one of the Mitford series books that is set during the Christmas season. I read all of the series a few years ago and am re-reading them this year. I skipped this one and saved it for Christmas time. It’s a great read and I love escaping to Mitford. I always learn something about myself and my relationship with God as I read about Father Tim.

In my devotion time, I’m reading the Gospel of John. After Thanksgiving, I was suppose to start Ezekiel, but wanted to read a more uplifting book. I read the Psalms for several days and then switched to John last week. This will keep the life of Christ front & center in my thoughts kamagra uk.

As a family (just Steve & I on the weekdays), we are reading through our Advent Reading schedule. So, we’ll read the traditional Christmas readings.

One reading that has intrigued me for the past few years is Luke 1 with Mary’s Song. Have you ever read it? Have you read it, as if you were pregnant? Mary is an outstanding young woman of faith. You can learn much from her.

What about Christmas books for kids?

Here are a few of our family favorites.

Jothams Journey

Jotham’s Journey – We read this several different years. Jotham’s Journey is the first book in a series of three. We all liked this one better than the other two. The next two books were a little more “politically correct”. Jotham’s Journey offers a good message that your kids will enjoy. The chapters are short and usually end at a suspenseful (cliff-hanger) place.

Best Christmas Pageant Ever

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever – I read this many times to my public school classes. My kids enjoyed it as well. Although it is not overtly Christian, there are some great Christian lessons you can learn.

A Christmas Carol Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol – A true classic! What marvelous lessons you can discuss with your family as you read about Scrooge and his transformation. If I remember correctly, our favorite movie rendition is with George C Scott.

What are you favorite Christmas books for children or adults?

Advent Activities: Encouraging Thankfulness During Advent (& my Giveaway to you)

Advent, Christmas 2 Comments

Last week I began a series showing how thanksgiving prepares your family for Christmas.  Thanksgiving is one of those advent activities we should all be doing as a family.  I discussed the idea that you should encourage your children to show thanks during Advent.  The beginning of a thankful heart is prayer, praying without ceasing.  To continue this idea, you need to look for opportunities to grow thanksgiving in your children’s hearts.  (Please read to the end about our giveaway)

1.  Start with your Heart

Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Romans 1:21

This goes back to prayer.  You should begin your prayers with thanksgiving so your kids can see where your heart is.  When you tell God you are thankful, your heart can follow suit.

2.  Focus on What you Have (not what you want)

Especially true during Advent, you should be helping your kids focus on what they have, instead of what they may want for Christmas.

Unfortunately, this has been a problem since the beginning of time.  Adam & Eve were guilty of focusing on what they did not have. Adam & Eve saw the forbidden tree and wanted it.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.  She also gave to her husband with her and he ate.  Genesis 3:6

Help your children take their eyes off the toys & games they don’t have and focus on what God has given them.  I mentioned this in my first article when I suggested you keep a thankful list.  Each member of your family can keep their own list or you can make a family list of thanks.  Either way, this is an opportunity to to thank God specifically for what He has given you.

If you haven’t started your thankful list, do it today.  List 5 things for which you give thanks.  Add 1 item to your list every day.  Today I’m adding our home church & the friends we have made through this group.

3.  Interrupt complaining & Be thankful



I love this idea that I heard from our pastor, Brian Fisher.  When his kids are complaining, he will tell them to stop and find to be thankful.  Can’t you see it?  Your kids are in the middle of an argument.  You ask them to stop.  Then, you ask them to say two things they are thankful.  This can completely change the course of your kids’ conversation.

“A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues.”
― Marcus Tullius Cicero

Cicero sums it up here.  Being thankful is the above all virtues.  You must be thankful to show any other virtue.  You must also be thankful as you prepare your heart for Christmas.  As you prepare to celebrate Christ coming to earth to save you from your sins.  Now, that is the ultimate aspect of being thankful.

How are you teaching your kids to be thankful during this Advent season?

Please leave a comment below.  I’ll be randomly choose 1 comment to win our Crockpot Recipe ebook.  (470 crockpot recipes to make dinner time quick & easy!)

Leave a comment by Sunday night, December 11 to enter our giveaway!

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© Kerry Beck, 2011
You have permission to reprint this article, as long as you don’t make any changes and include the bio below.
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Kerry Beck wants to give you a free Advent Calendar Countdown to use in your Christmas & Advent celebration this year. You can also get a free webinar, “6 Clues to Put Christ Back in Christmas” at http://budurl.com/tspk

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