Epiphany, the twelfth day of Christmas, is one of my favorite holidays: traditionally, the night when the three Magi, bearing gifts from afar, following a star, came to visit a baby born in a manger. But the Magi were not the first powerful figures to pay homage to the lowly. In many cultures — as is wonderfully spoofed in Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night — this has been the day when servants become rulers; masters become minions; clothes and gender roles are exchanged; mummers, mimes, and morris-dancers welcome in a one-night rule of mayhem. All this is orchestrated in order to bring about the destruction of the Old Social Order (at least, the dregs of the past year) and celebrate renewal in a New Era. And in honor of that new era, it’s inspiring to give a gift.
Indeed, in Spain — in emulation of the Magi — their great gift-giving day is not Christmas, but Epiphany. Which makes perfect sense!
My Epiphany in Spain
I’ve always loved meeting or hearing from my readers, one to one. For me, it’s the greatest gift of all, to learn that the adventures and fantasies I’ve put on paper have inspired so many people, young or old, to do something adventurous or fascinating in their own lives.
Hence, my own favorite epiphany took place a few years ago, while I was on Spanish book tour for The Fire, the sequel to The Eight. Those twelve days in Madrid were SO much fun! At various bookstores, cultural centers and other venues, while TV cameras followed us around, I met tens of thousands of readers and fellow writers: I had breakfast with the 19-year-old Spanish national chess champion, David Lariño, and played the opening of a game of chess with him in public on a giant board; thousands of readers turned out in the streets under exotic Christmas lights, as we danced to bongos, and I signed zillions of books (I even kept tallies of those who asked me for a personal note!); my great friend and fellow “adventure-quest” author, Javier Sierra, interviewed me before hundreds of book lovers. And on and on…
So tonight, at Epiphany, let’s all light a candle and follow our own star into the New Era!
Click here to see the movie and photos of my Spanish Epiphany