Some carried candles, tried to knock down hardy pinatas and feasted on “old clothes stew.” Others burned pine boughs, sending plumes of thick smoke above a church parking lot. Another church welcomed everyone, including alpacas.
Worshipers marked the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany - the 12th and final day of Christmas - with different ceremonies Sunday in Spokane.
But they all honored the wise men who discovered the Christ child, whether they were attending the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church or Emmanuel Lutheran Church.
At St. John’s, about 90 people listened to a short service before a Mexican potluck. Children squirmed in the pews, eager to parade around the church holding their candles. The candles were held in homemade metal cans hanging from wooden sticks.
“The symbolism of taking the light of Christ into the world is really the epiphany for me,” said Kristi Philip, the canon who lead the celebration.
The Feast of the Epiphany usually is a more casual celebration than other church holiday ceremonies. It’s more of a party, finishing out the holidays and celebrating the birth of Christ.
Maxine and Chuck Schmitz prepared a lot of the items for the party at St. John’s. Their 15-year-old daughter made the four pinatas, stuffed with candy and peanuts and covered in a rainbow of paper.
“We might have to beat the heck out of it,” said Chuck Schmitz, pointing at one pinata hanging from the ceiling.
Maxine Schmitz baked the king cake, a traditional feast dessert. She combined seven boxes of cake mix and six “real large deals” of whipped cream. For young treasure hunters, she added $4 in coins and a gold-plated ring.
“There’s a lot of cake that doesn’t get eaten,” Chuck Schmitz said. “The kids just paw through it and come back for seconds and thirds.”
The parishioners all brought Mexican dishes large enough to feed 10 people. There were bowls of taco salad, tostadas, casseroles and at least one dish of Ropa-Vieja stew.
“It means ‘old clothes,”’ said cook Jacquelen Baucom, who came to celebrate with her family.
About 40 people at St. Stephen’s watched a church procession re-enacting the journey of the three kings to Christ. Alpacas paraded out of the church along with the people.
At Emmanuel Lutheran, 16 people sang a final chorus of Christmas carols, ate cookies and drank hot chocolate.
Each church member placed a Christmas tree bough on a burning grill. The dry crackle sounded like angry static electricity.
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