I have tried to keep the tradition alive for my own children here in the United States. As children, Santa Claus delivered most of their gifts on Christmas morning . . . but somehow, Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar managed to find their way to the American Midwest to deliver one or two small presents on the day of Epiphany . . .
This year, for our Three Kings Day Open House, I decided to place the Nativity Scene, right smack in the middle of the Dining Room table, with the savory treats placed in the perimeter . . . I used a length of burlap on top of the tablecloth, to highlight the humble surroundings at Jesus' birth . . .
We started collecting this Nativity set by Fontanini when my oldest son was born. It has worked out splendidly. I wanted a set that my children could touch and play with as they were growing up, so that the Nativity story would become familiar to them . . . My creative children would rearrange the figurines, and would even have Baby Jesus riding on the camels before putting him down for a nap . . . Even after all these years, the pieces are in excellent shape. The muted palette is lovely, I think, and each piece came with a charming little story describing its individual role . . .
And here are the three wise men, Gaspar, Melchior and Balthazar, who brought gold, myrrh and frankincense to the Baby Jesus . . .
The desserts were displayed in the kitchen table, with the Willow Tree by Demdaco figurines acting as a centerpiece. I placed them on a cake stand and scattered some “snow” around their feet . .
A 2005 Swarovski snowflake dangled from the chandelier and made a credible “star” for the Magi . . .
There was lots of food . . . We had ham and cheese sandwiches and cucumber sandwiches with herbed cream cheese (I never pass up a chance to make cucumber sandwiches) . . . We had an exquisite cheese tray brought by my sister-in-law, Mary Ann . . . We had potato salad and egg salad . . . This chicken salad was my mother's specialty and is now my favorite . . . Every bite is chock full of sweet fruit, including grapes, apples, cranberries and golden raisins . . . I love the sweet-tart combination of fruit and freshly-squeezed lemon juice . . .
A bowl of berries . . . a simple but delicious indulgence . . . Who doesn't like a bowl of berries . . . ?
We had mini-scones . . .
My favorite date nut bread . . . Click here if you want the recipe . . .
My son, John, made almond bark . . .
And he baked all these chocolate chip cookies . . . Is it any wonder I miss this kid so much when he goes back to college . . . ?
Turrones are candied nougats made in Spain, and these were the traditional sweets we ate at Christmas. They'd show up in the stores in mid-December and would disappear after New Year's. In this platter I have Fruit Nougat, Marzipan and Egg Yolk Nougat . . .
Here's the King of the Turrones . . . Turrón Jijona, a sweet bar made with ground almonds and honey . . . It is sublime . . . It comes wrapped in several layers of plastic to hold in all the natural oils from the almonds . . . All you need is a little morsel because it's very sweet, but, oh, so satisfying . . .
Here's our version of King Cake - a spice cake that turned out as delicious as it looked sad.
NOTE TO SELF: DO NOT cover spice cake with plastic wrap after glazing so the cake doesn't end up looking like this . . .
A little plastic baby was hidden inside the spice cake . . . as tiny as an almond . . . whoever ended up with the baby in their piece of cake is declared King (or Queen) of the Day and receives a special prize (this year, it was a bottle of champagne) . . .
Each guest went home with an Epiphany kit . . .
A lottery ticket . . . some candy . . . and a piece of white chalk rolled up in a little scroll . . .
The scroll contains a house blessing for the new year, a tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages . . .
We lined up all the little bags on top of the bookcases . . .
And here I am, with my sweet husband, as we got ready to open our home to friends and family . . .
May the love of the Wise Men guide our steps so that the light of Jesus is revealed to us . . . May we always be inspired to follow the star that is the love of God . . .
Joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday.