The 12th Day of Christmas is the feast of the Three Kings

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What is the 12th Day Of Christmas? 

silhouette of the 3 kings following the Christmas star.
January 6th, 3 Kings day is the 12th day of Christmas as it occurs 12 days after the Christ Child is born. In Christian religions, this is the day the wise men arrive bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Simply stated, the 12th day of Christmas occurs 12 days AFTER Christmas. The 12th day of Christmas is celebrated as the Feast of the Epiphany in many Christian churches. Jesus was born on December 25th, and 12 days later, on January 6th, the 3 Wise Men or Magi arrive. 

The 12 days of Christmas is also a popular Christmas Song. 

The song seems to suggest the time period leading UP to Christmas, but we know the 12th day of Christmas is actually 12 days AFTER Christmas. 

The exact origins and the meaning of the song, The 12 Days of Christmas, are unknown, but it is thought to have originated from a children’s memory and forfeit game. Children played these games,  going round after round and when they made a mistake they had to give something up, like candy, as their forfeit.

There are many theories about the MEANING of the song, 12 days of Christmas, but I’ll leave that for other bloggers! You can check SNOPES, it is certainly NOT a way Christians passed doctrine along when in hiding! 

The twelve days start with the day after Christmas, also known as Boxing Day or St. Stephen’s Day. They end on January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany, Three Kings Day. On the Feast of the Epiphany, it is said the Magi, or the wise men arrived to visit the baby Jesus. Therefore we consider the 12th day of Christmas Three Kings Day!

What does the Word Epiphany Mean? 

The Feast of the Epiphany, is 3 Kings day, January 6th. But what exactly does the word Epiphany mean? Regarding the context of 3 kings day, Epiphany is the manifestation of Christ. In other words, When the 3 kings arrive it becomes CLEAR that indeed Jesus is the divine on earth, he is God’s son as the prophets promised. Epiphany means the sudden realization of the essential nature or meaning of something. The Wise Men provide us with the essential nature of Jesus, the divine. By celebrating this feast day, we are reminded that we too are reflections of the light of Christ, and called to see this light in others and let our light shine and guide others to Jesus!

What historians can tell us about the Three Kings

There are many traditions surrounding these legendary visitors. Historians have studied their visit and tried to give us as much information as possible.

The bible doesn’t tell us much; only that the Christ Child was visited by wise men from the east. In biblical times wise men of that nature were often called Magi and were known for being astronomers because they studied the stars.

Legends go on to give the 3 Kings names, and the places they came from as well as the gifts they brought Jesus. 

If you would like to hear Christy The Christmas Angel introduce the 3 Wise men, the animals they may have used as well as the gifts they likely brought the infant Jesus, you can see that below. 

Meet the 3 Kings

Caspar (also known as Gaspar) is said to have come from India and brought Frankincense, a valuable perfume with him. Melchior brings the Gold and is said to come from Persia (modern-day Iran – Iraq). Balthazar travels from Arabia (now known as Saudi Arabia) bringing the holy oil associated with anointing, Myrrh.

Often the Three Kings are depicted traveling together, and all on camels…but really? At some point it is tradition they met and traveled together, following the bright star in the sky. Do you ever wonder if indeed they all DID use camels coming from such different countries? That’s what much artwork and movie depictions show. Historians each have a different view of exactly WHICH country WHICH king came from… and it’s had to know thousands of years later.

Homeschool Holiday has a unique perspective based on where we believe the Kings to have traveled from. (In conjunction with a few historians that is!) It seems logical the Kings would have used animals native to their countries of origin; Caspar an elephant, Melchior the camel, and Balthazar a horse. Our Epiphany / 3 Kings day History and Craft reflects this viewpoint, making it a unique curriculum indeed!

Want to learn a bit more about the GIFTS the 3 kings brought the baby Jesus? Visit our post: Three Kings Day January 6.

Celebrating The 12th Day of Christmas

It is a tradition to leave your Christmas decorations up until the Feast of Epiphany. In our home, we ADD to our decorations. Using the craft in the Three Kings Day History activity and the BONUS crown craft. We recognize the important role the Magi play in the nativity.

Visit the Homeschool Holiday Shop to purchase

The Three Kings day learning resource contains:

  • An Informational Text page/ handout describing history of Three Kings Day
    • History of 3 Kings Day in presentation form
    • A TEACHING VIDEO in which Christy the Christmas Angel guides learners through the history and introduces each wise man
    • printable 1 page mini book of same/similar history information
  • Color and color your own 3 kings and their unique animals craftivity files – Make a mobile or stick puppets!
  • BONUS 3 kings day crown template

Many celebrations of epiphany include a king’s cake. Why not arrange to make or purchase one from your local bakery? On the feast of the Three Kings hold a small family party, or gather some friends. You can decorate the crowns available in our Homeschool Holiday 3 Kings Day History and Craft, then enjoy The king’s cake!

Don’t forget, hidden inside the cake there is a baby Jesus and if your slice of the cake contains the baby, you get to host the celebration next year!

Looking for something for younger kids?

If you are in need of 3 Kings Day activities for kids and have little ones, you will love our Activities for Three Kings Day. This FREE Resource is full of resources to supplement the study of Epiphany. The Activity Pack includes a template for creating a 3 Kings day crown, coloring pages, a 3 Kings day maze, a puzzle, and a printable Memory activity designed to go with the “Meet the Kings” video. (There is a link in the product for your convenience!)

This Activity Pack will keep little hands busy while you celebrate this important holiday!

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