STOCKBRIDGE -- You don't have to put away the Christmas spirit just yet. The season continues for a few more days in Stockbridge, where on Sunday an annual multi-faith evening of songs and treats to celebrate the Feast of Epiphany will wrap up the holiday season on the right note.
The annual singalong is organized by a cross-section of town churches, including the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, and the First Congregational Church of Stockbridge.
Brother Ken Galisa of the Divine Mercy has been involved in planning the event since he arrived at the community in the late 1970s.
"It is not only a way of focusing on the beautiful observance of the Christmas season in the Berkshires, but also of letting the three worshipping communities get to know each other and share their talents and good wishes for the holiday," he said.
Epiphany has long been an important part of the Christian calendar, though it is often overlooked in the sweep of Christmas and New Year's. The day marks the arrival of the three Magi -- traditionally named Balthasar, Melchior, and Caspar -- to Bethlehem, where they presented the newborn Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The feast is celebrated in the West on the Sunday closest to Jan. 6, which comes at the end of the proverbial Twelve Days of Christmas.
The local event begins on Sunday when carolers are invited to gather on the front porch of the Red Lion Inn at around 6:30 p.m. To the accompaniment of a keyboard, and with the help of booklets to remind singers of the words, whoever comes will sing an assortment of familiar Christmas carols. "We Three Kings" and "Let There Be Peace on Earth" are favorites. After about an hour, the fun moves inside for cookies, brownies and hot chocolate.
The churches of Stockbridge decided to hold a public observance of the day more than 40 years ago, at the inspiration of Marian priest Father Jeremiah McGrath.
Father Kazimierz Chwalek, the provincial at the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy, said that the Feast of Epiphany is very important for the eastern rite churches and is celebrated in a variety of different ways by Catholics of different ethnicities.
"For us, it brings all Christians together, and we can honor Him and sing His praises as one," he said.
Previous events have brought together a few dozen or up to 100 participants, but Father Chwalek said the exact number doesn't matter.
"Even a small group generates its own spiritual energy," he said. "No matter how many people we have it is always a success."
The event had been supported by Jack and Jane Fitzpatrick, the long-time owners of the Red Lion Inn. This is the first since year the Epiphany event will be held since Jane Fitzpatrick passed away in November.
"We are very pleased that this tradition continues at this historic Stockbridge landmark," Galisa said. "We are certain that Jack and Jane Fitzpatrick are happy too."
If you go ...
What: Comminity celebration of Epiphany
When: 6:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: Porch of the Red Lion Inn, Main Street, Stockbridge