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Catholic Activity: Twelfth Night Cake And Kings Tradition


  • Twelfth Night Cake (see recipes)
  • 3 beans to hide in cake
  • colored stiff paper, 3" x 24"
  • decorations for crown: gems, colored paper, markers, crayons, sequins

Prep Time

1 hour


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Epiphany is also known as "Twelfth Night" an here are some ideas for an Epiphany party and inspiration for decorating a Twelfth Night Cake and crowns for the Three Kings.

The feast of manifestation, or Epiphany, is traditionally celebrated the 12th day after Christmas, January 6th. In the dioceses of the United States this feast has been moved to the Sunday between January 2 and January 8.


This is an old English custom, and one about which there is very little written. In reality it is an Epiphany party. Each child in the family or neighborhood brings a small gift to the party, and all form a procession and lay their gifts at the crib under the Christmas tree. For refreshment a cake (the traditional 12th Night Cake) is baked in which are hidden three dried beans. The children who get the beans in their piece of cake receive a crown and are the "12th night Kings" during the remainder of the party. The kings distribute the gifts to all the children and select the songs and games.

The Crowns: These may be easily made of colored paper. Take a piece of stiff paper about three inches wide and 24 inches long. Cut diagonals in the top section of the strip so as to leave points for the crown. The ends may be glued together or tied with a ribbon. Pearls and other gems of cut paper may be added for effect.

See < a href=""> The Treasure Chest, Jan. 1, 1953, V. 8, n. 9, p.9.

Activity Source: How to Make Your House a Home by Rev. Bernard Stokes, O.F.M., Family Life Bureau, Washington D.C., 1955