Jan. 7th, 2017 | The 23rd Times

What is the Epiphany?

by: Amani Hughes – The Sunday Express

EPIPHANY is known as the 12th day of Christmas and marks the official end to the festive season for many Christians. But why is the Epiphany in 2018? Epiphany falls 12 days after Christmas Day on January 6 and is a very important date in the Christian calendar.

The ancient Christian feast day is significant as it is a celebration of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist and is also regarded as a more general celebration of his birth. The 12th night (Epiphany) also marks a visit to the baby Jesus from the three kings (three Wise Men).

Epiphany has been celebrated in Europe since the 4th century and is associated with the visit of the Wise Men to Jesus. The Gospel of Matthew says the three kings – named Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar – followed a star across the desert to Bethlehem, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold represented Jesus’s royal standing, frankincense his divine birth and myrrh his mortality. The word ‘Epiphany’ comes from Greek and means “manifestation.”

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When is the Epiphany Celebrated?

The Catholic Church observes Epiphany as a single day on January 7, however Protestant churches say the season of Epiphany extends from January 6 until Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent.

During the medieval period, Christmas was celebrated for the 12 days from Christmas Eve on December 24, until the Epiphany. Some Catholic churches in the US mark the Epiphany feast on the Sunday after January 6 and Orthodox Christians celebrate the day on January 19. The six Sundays which follow the Epiphany are known by Christians as the time of manifestation.

How is the Epiphany Celebrated?

Celebrations of Epiphany vary around the world and in many countries it is a public holiday. In Bulgaria people jump into the icy water of the Black Sea to celebrate the annual feast day. Other countries exchange presents and have fireworks and parades. In the spanish speaking world, Epiphany is known as Dia de los Reyes (Three Kings’ Day) and in Mexico crowds gather to taste the Rosca de Reyes – Kings’ bread.

Oh God, who by the leading of a star manifested your only Son to the people of the earth: lead us, who know you by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who live and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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