Epiphany, also known as Theophany (vision of God), is familiar to Christians all over the world as it is a Christian feast day celebrated annually. This holiday has a long history and is observed by most Christians on a specific date of the year.
What is Epiphany?
Epiphany, which means “manifestation” or “striking appearance”, is a traditional holiday of Christians. On that day, most Christians celebrate the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ. In Western, Christians commemorate principally (but not solely) the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus, and thus Jesus’ physical manifestation to the Gentiles. Meanwhile, Eastern Christians commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, seen as His manifestation to the world as the Son of God.
Eastern churches use Julian calendar to observe the Epiphany feast, while in Western Churches, they use Gregorian calendar.
Original word usage
Epiphany derives from the verb “to appear” and means “manifestation”, “appearance”. In classical Greek, this word was used of the appearance of dawn, of an enemy in war, and especially, of a manifestation of a deity to a worshipper.
History of Epiphany
Epiphany, the 12th day after Christmas, is held to commemorate the visit of the three kings or wise men to the Christ Child, signifying the extension of salvation to the Gentiles. The history of Epiphany has a lot to be told.
The observance of Epiphany originated from the Eastern Christian Churches and was considered as a general celebration of the manifestation of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. Epiphany included the commemoration of Jesus’ birth, the visit of the Magi to Bethlehem and nearly all of Jesus’ childhood events, up to his baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist and the miracle at the wedding at Cana. It is likely that the Baptism was the main event being commemorated in this holiday.
Christians fixed the date of Epiphany – January 6 – quite early in the history. In the Latin churches, Christmas was celebrated before the feast of Epiphany. As time went by, Western Churches made up their mind to celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December; whereas, Eastern Churches continued to treat the 6th of January as the day remembering the birth of Jesus Christ.
Before 1970, the Roman Catholic Church (and before 1976, the Anglican churches) considered Epiphany as an 8-day feast, starting on the 6th of January and continuing through the Octave of Epiphany (or the 13th of January). And recently, the Roman Catholic Churches in the United States have marked this special holiday on the Sunday after the first Saturday in January. Most Anglicans and Catholics (along with a large number of Protestants) now end the Christmas season on the Sunday following January 6.
When is Epiphany 2014?
Epiphany is traditionally held on the 6th of January each year.
Therefore, Epiphany 2014 falls on Monday, January 6.
Epiphany is a Christian feast that celebrates the “shining forth” or revelation of God to mankind in human form, or rather, in the person of Jesus Christ. This special occasion is held by both the Western and Eastern churches. However, there are certain differences between them. As for Western Christians, the feast mainly commemorates the coming of the Magi, with a minor reference to the baptism of Jesus Christ and the miracle at the wedding at Cana. Meanwhile, Eastern Christians hold the Baptism of Christ in the Jordan.
Whether in Western tradition or in Eastern tradition, the essence of the feast is considered the same: the manifestation of Jesus Christ to the world in a human form and the mystery of incarnation. Besides, the miracle at the wedding at Cana is also organized during this special holiday as the first manifestation of Christ’s public life.
Epiphany 2014 is observed with a wide array of customs all over the world. In some countries historically shaped by the Western Christianity, these customs usually involve giving presents to each other, “king cakes” and a celebratory close to the Christmas season. On the other hand, as for Orthodox countries, the celebrations often center around water, house blessings and baptismal rites.
For instance, Slovenia, in Epiphany 2014, children usually move from house to house as villagers will give them nuts, cookies, almonds and some other interesting stuff. In Puerto Rico, it is a custom for children to fill a box with fresh grass and then, put it under the bed, for the Wise Men’s camels. The three kings, then, will take the box containing fresh grass to feed the camels and leave presents under the bed as a reward. And there are still numerous countries with a plethora of intriguing traditional customs all around the world.
Epiphany is a traditional Christian feast commemorating the manifestation of Jesus Christ to the world and the mystery of incarnation. This special and interesting occasion occurs annually on a fixed date in January. And Epiphany 2014 takes place on Monday, January 6.