As I am in full prep zone for a Twelfth Night Party, I will not hesitate to brazenly steal from the day’s entry at the wonderful Fisheaters website. I go back to this site periodically and marvel at the effort to put such a wonderful compendium of the traditional practice of the Catholic faith in one place. I think a lot of “trads” make use of it early in our “tradversion”, but then leave it. It is a good touchstone from time to time.

Today is the Vigil of one of the great Feasts of Our Lord:

Arise, be enlightened, O Jerusalem: for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For behold darkness shall cover the earth, and a mist the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall walk in thy light, and kings in the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thy eyes round about, and see: all these are gathered together, they are come to thee: thy sons shall come from afar, and thy daughters shall rise up at thy side. Then shalt thou see, and abound, and thy heart shall wonder and be enlarged, when the multitude of the sea shall be converted to thee, the. strength of the Gentiles shall come to thee. The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Madian and Epha: all they from Saba shall come, bringing gold and frankincense: and shewing forth praise to the Lord.

Isaias 60: 1-6

Therefore taking up his parable, again he said: Balaam the son of Beor hath said: The man whose eye is stopped up, hath said: The hearer of the words of God hath said, who knoweth the doctrine of the Highest, and seeth the visions of the Almighty, who falling hath his eyes opened: I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not near. A STAR SHALL RISE out of Jacob and a sceptre shall spring up from Israel: and shall strike the chiefs of Moab, and shall waste all the children of Seth. And he shall possess Idumea: the inheritance of Seir shall come to their enemies, but Israel shall do manfully. Out of Jacob shall he come that shall rule, and shall destroy the remains of the city.

Numbers 24: 15-19

If today is the Vigil of the Epiphany, then that means tomorrow is the Epiphany itself. See how I did that? And that means tonight is Twelfth Night. You don’t have to be a fan of Shakespeare to celebrate it.

On the Vigil, water is blessed with the special Epiphany blessing, and is used with blessed chalk and incense to bless homes. In the evening, it seems fitting for a Catholic to begin the celebration to welcome the Magi.

Our Lord is born, and is the salvation of the Gentiles! Let us adore Him!

To conclude, back to Fisheaters:

The custom of choosing Twelfthnight “royalty” is described in “Twelfth Night: Or King and Queen” by the English poet, Robert Herrick (A.D. 1591-1674):

Twelfth Night: Or King and Queen

Now, now the mirth comes
With the cake full of plums,
Where bean’s the king of the sport here;
Beside we must know,
The pea also
Must revel, as queen, in the court here.

Begin then to choose,
This night as ye use,
Who shall for the present delight here,
Be a king by the lot,
And who shall not
Be Twelfth-day queen for the night here.

Which known, let us make
Joy-sops with the cake;
And let not a man then be seen here,
Who unurg’d will not drink
To the base from the brink
A health to the king and queen here.

Next crown a bowl full
With gentle lamb’s wool:
Add sugar, nutmeg, and ginger,
With store of ale too;
And thus ye must do
To make the wassail a swinger.

Give then to the king
And queen wassailing:
And though with ale ye be whet here,
Yet part from hence
As free from offence
As when ye innocent met here.