In Staffordshire, fires were lighted on this day "in memory of the blazing star that conducted the three magi to the manger in Bethlehem." In Irish homes there was the same insistence on light. In a sieve of oats, surrounded by twelve burning candles, a single large candle was lighted. But generally speaking, all the festivities of the day were based on the idea of kingship and bent on honoring the three kings, so that lots were drawn to determine who should be the king for the day. Here was one way of marking the day. An Epiphany cake was made, traditionally of flour, honey, pepper and ginger, and a halfpenny put in it. When it was baked it was cut into as many pieces as there were members of the family, while portions were also assigned to our Lord, to Mary and to the three Magi. These were given to strangers, preferably to people in need. Whoever found the halfpenny in his piece of cake was saluted as king, placed in a chair of honor, and three times raised up to the ceiling, on which with his right hand he drew a cross. A carol was sung and the king ruled the party that followed.
An Epiphany party might easily become a feature of this day in any Catholic youth club or school or family. After a brief re-telling of the story of the Wise Men, those arranging the party could follow the custom of having in the cake three beans, each of which will represent a king. On their being chosen, the three kings rule the party, which should end with a carol-singing procession and the giving away to someone in need of some food which had been held back for this purpose.
"A Candle is Lighted" - Imprimatur 1943