3 Kings, 2 Traditions: How Providence Academy Celebrates Epiphany

“A moment in which one suddenly gains clarity.” To most people, this is the cut-and-dry definition of the word “epiphany.”  But to Providence Academy and Catholics at large, this word means so much more. 

“With Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Jesus; God becomes man. With Epiphany, this mystery is shown to the world, as the Magi recognize Jesus for who He is and His mission,” stated PA Chaplain Father Michael McClellan. 

Joseph Cummins, ’24, reverently watches Father McClellan mark the classroom door for Epiphany.

In accordance with the importance of the day, Providence incorporated many traditions to celebrate Epiphany on January 6, 2022.

Epiphany began with Father McClellan walking from one classroom door to another and blessing them with chalk. 

“Marking the doors reminds us that Christ is blessing the new year and being proclaimed to the new year,” McClellan emphasized. 

However, anyone who has celebrated Epiphany knows this day is more than just the chalk tradition. In European countries, the Feast of the Epiphany is a celebration that is even bigger than Christmas! 

For example, Epiphany parades flood the streets of Spain, gifts are exchanged in Italy, and the French feast on la Galette de Rois, a traditional French puff pastry with almond filling. 

Une Feve is hidden within the Galette de Rois.

“Une fève, a small charm made of plastic or porcelain, is hidden within the cake.  The one who finds the fève is crowned the king or queen for the evening,” Madame Annie Heitzmann, PA Upper School French Teacher explained, “The youngest of the family typically sits underneath the table and decides who receives each piece of cake.”

This tradition made its way over the Atlantic and into the Providence community, with French V partaking in celebrating with the traditional “King Cake.” 

Max Heitzmann, ’23, smiles after being crowned “King” for finding the feve.

Whether students were feasting on a cake or celebrating mass, Providence managed to make Epiphany a special holiday worthy of its definition for everyone.

Tess Klammer, ‘24, reflected, “I think it’s super great that Providence celebrates so many special days in the Church, like Epiphany. It gives us students a chance to learn about the importance of each one and the traditions surrounding them.”  

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