Saturday, January 4, 2014

Ringing in the New Year with Mary and Annual Homeschool Epiphany Party!

Virgin & Child

In the Catholic Church, January 1st is the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God.  Many are not comfortable calling Jesus' mother, the Mother of God.  Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosi has an interesting article titled, Mary, Mother of God?, which discusses how this title of our Blessed Mother came to be and the history behind it. 

I always enjoy attending Mass as a family to set the new year off right. We went to the vigil Mass on Dec. 31 at 6 PM since we knew we would be out late ringing in the new year with family.  We rang in the new year with a dinner at my in-laws and we played Blokus, Cantan Junior, and Cubulus, 3 new games we got for Christmas. 

Last night, our family hosted our homeschool group's  annual Epiphany party.  For a great article about the Epiphany feast day be sure to read The Epiphany Revealed!

We have a potluck get together after the pre-Christmas rush and it's nice to come together in fun and fellowship just before the second half of our school year begins.

This year the children acted out a simple Nativity play.  With homemade and borrowed costumes from my church, we had narrators tell the Christmas story and then the "actors" and "actresses" came out on "stage" (our living room in front of the fireplace).  T.D., a mother in our homeschool group, did a great job organizing the short and sweet play and writing the scripts for it from various sources.  Here are pictures from our fun and memorable evening:

 This beautiful banner was borrowed from our church.  It made a perfect backdrop that we tacked up in front of our TV screen over the mantle

Getting ready for the "big" performance as we helped the kids get dressed upstairs in my house and then the narrators practiced reading their parts and the other children walked on stage. 
The 3 wisemen carried treasure boxes with real frankincense and myrrh that Anna-Marie at Life's Adventures posted about and then she sent me some in the mail. Thank you Anna-Marie for your thoughtfulness!  We have used these gifts several years now for our Epiphany parties.

Our 5th cupcake got to play Baby Jesus.  She did a superb job and was a natural as Mary and Joseph admire their "newborn" Child :) 

 Here's the entire cast:  Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, sheperds, animals, wisemen, angels, narrators

After the Nativity play was over, we had Father Alex, a wonderful friend and spiritual director for our homeschool families, say a Blessing of the Home and Household on Epiphany
Then he blessed the colored chalk by reciting THIS blessing of chalk on Epiphany.  It is traditional to bless your home on the Epiphany and bless chalk so that you can mark the names of the 3 Magi over your door as a witness to your faith and protection against evil.  

I had each family take a piece of black construction paper and blessed chalk and mark the first letter of the 3 Magi (C = Casper, M = Melchior, B = Balthasar) over their doors, along with the "20" for the first two numbers of the year and "14" for the last half of the year.  Each family could then take home their paper and tape it to their door or even use the chalk and mark the numbers and letters directly onto their door.
We then bid farewell to a homeschool family that is leaving town next week for a year :(  And then it was time to surprise Father Alex, the priest who baptized our little Leah, with a birthday cake that I made using this Homemade Funfetti cake mix with the homemade cream cheese icing that is always a hit!  Father Alex turns a year older younger this weekend, so we thought it was great fun to sing "Happy Birthday" and I "stole" a baby picture he posted on Facebook and printed it out.  I then attached a popsicle stick to the picture and placed it on top of the cake. I didn't take a picture of his decorated cake, but here is Father Alex with his baby picture decoration....HaHa! Everyone got a good laugh at this!

After Father Alex said a beautiful dinner blessing, we had some great food, fun, and continued fellowship.  These "prayer" stars were made by T.D. and I.  I wrote each family member's name on a star.  Then one person from each family picked a star randomly and that is the family they pray for in 2014.  We have done this tradition of the exchanging of prayer ornaments for awhile now and it's always so nice to pray for others and have prayers said for us. 

 (white chocolate nativity made by T.D.)

It was a wonderful evening filled with many blessings and a great start to 2014!

God bless you in the New Year!



Mom2Seven said...

Happy New Year, Tracy! It looks like a wonderful celebration of the Epiphany. You are blessed to be a part of such an awesome homeschool group. <3 Annita

Unknown said...

Our first year with the Little One and I'm only just starting to develop our traditions but the epiphany is a feast I really want to celebrate as it's among the point that it's still Christmas. I even signed one of her presents from the Magi to give her today!
Just a thought perhaps the older children could come up with their own script? If you prayed before hand it might be a great chance for meditative prayer?

Wow! What a fantastic way to celebrate. All too often, the Epiphany just gets lost and forgotten. I learned some things here I hadn't known - like the tradition of blessing the home on the Feast of the Epiphany, and blessed chalk. Thank you for sharing this!

Looks like a wonderful party! I really like the idea of celebrating the Epiphany with such enthusiasm...thank you for sharing!

Happy New Year to you as well Annita! January is almost over! That's hard to believe! Always so good to hear from you! Thank you for stopping in to comment! It's amazing how our HS group changes each year as families move away :( and some families move into town and join our group. But, I'm trying to trust more and more that God will provide what our family needs as far as connecting with other Catholic HS families in our area. I hope you have a blessed 2014!

HI Andrea! Thank you for your comments and stopping in to read my post! I like your idea of giving your child a gift from the Magi! Enjoy developing your own family traditions through the years! Have a blessed 2014!

HI Nancy! Thank you for visiting my post and leaving your encouraging comments! Yes, I do believe Epiphany is an easy one to get lost in the hustle and bustle of the season. Our homeschool group started celebrating the Epiphany for many reasons, one of which was because Dec. is so crazy and Advent isn't a time to celebrate Christmas since Christmas season doesn't start until Christmas Day :) Glad you found my post helpful! :) Have a blessed 2014!

Thank you Valerie at Hand-Made With Love for taking the time to read my post and comment! We aren't always blessed with a priest's presence for the Epiphany party so it was even more special that the families were able to celebrate with him! Have a blessed 2014!

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