Three Kings Day 2014: All You Need To Know
What is Three Kings Day?
Three Kings’ Day is the alternative name for Epiphany or the Feast of Epiphany, which is one of oldest Christian holidays in the United States. The tradition of celebrating Three Kings’ Day has begun way back in the end of the 2nd century, even before the establishment of the Christmas holiday. The word “Epiphany” comes from the Greek word “Epiphania”, which means “manifestation” or “revelation”. According to Christian belief, his feast commemorates the first two biblical events in which Jesus’ divinity was manifested: the Magi or Three Kings’ visit to infant Jesus in Bethlehem, and his baptism in the river Jordan, carried out by John the Baptist. However, there is a slight difference in the emphasis on the two events: when celebrating Three Kings’ Day, the Eastern Orthodox churches emphasize Jesus’s baptism, while the Protestant and Roman Catholic churches focus more on the Magi’s visit. Therefore, Eastern Christians also give the day the name of “Theophany” (which means “manifestation of God”). Epiphany also refers to the church season succeeding the holiday.
So, when is Three Kings Day 2014?
In Western Christian tradition nowadays, Three Kings’ Day is held on January 6th every year. However, due to the different calendars used to calculate dates, when Christmas and Epiphany are celebrated is different between Western and Eastern traditions. In some Eastern churches, Epiphany is the day to commemorate Jesus’s baptism, while the Magi’s visit is linked to Christmas. With the influence of Catholic tradition, some South and Central American nations view Three Kings’ Day or the night before as the time for opening Christmas presents. Yet, in some churches, Christmas is celebrated on this day and Epiphany occurs on January 19th.
In different cultures, this feast is also commonly known as Little Christmas,Twelfth Day or Twelfth Night because it marks the official end of the “Twelve Days of Christmas”, starting from Christmas evening on December 25th, to Three Kings’ Day on January 6th. Three Kings’ Day 2014 will fall on Monday, January 6th, 2014.
Three Kings Day Origin – Jesus’s Birth
The celebration of Three Kings’ Day 2014 originates from the biblical story that tells us about the Three Kings’ legendary visit to baby Christ. The Three Kings, also known as the Magi or Wise Men, consisted of Caspar (alternatively Gaspar or Kaspar), Balthasar and Melchior. In that story, on the night Christ was born, the Three Kings saw a bright star and followed it to Bethlehem to find the Christ child. The Three Kings presented Jesus with three gifts, including gold, which is appropriate for a king; frankincense, which was used for act of worship in temples; and myrrh, which was used for embalming or a salve for irritations like a diaper rash. In this way, they were the first Gentiles to “reveal” Jesus Christ to a wider world as Lord and the king of all kings, who came for the Gentiles and the Jews. Corresponding to Simeon’s blessing that the child would be “a light for revelation to the Gentiles” (Luke 2:32), this act of worship was one of the first indications that Christ came for everyone of all nations and races, and that all people would be blessed with the work of God.
Three Kings Day 2014 around the world
Throughout the world, there is more than one way to celebrate Three Kings’ Day. Despite the varying customs for this feast, we can stillwitness some common features for Three Kings’ Day 2014. In Spain and other countries that speak Spanish, Christmas is traditionally observed as a solemn religious day, while Three Kings’ Day or Día de los Reyes is the holiday for partying and exchanging gifts. However, nowadays in many Hispanic cultures, gifts can also be given on Christmas day or, even better, on both days as double celebration!
In Latin America, in the days preceding Three Kings’ Day, children dressed in king costumes would go door to door in their neighborhoods singing carols. The feast is celebrated with a variety of dishes as well. The Mexicans traditionally serve festive sweet bread shaped like a king’s crown called Rosca de Reyes, while the Argentinians leave sweet wine, fruit and milk outside for the Three Kings and their camels. In Franch, Three Kings’ Day 2014 cannot be complete without a Galette des Rois, or “king cake”, which contains a trinket or bean hidden inside. The person who gets the piece of cake with the trinket becomes the “king” for the day.
The colors of Epiphany are most of the time the colors of Christmas as well, which are white and gold. For the most sacred occasions of the church year, these colors signify newness and hope. The traditional liturgical symbols of Three Kings’ Day are usually associated with the Magi, including three or a single crown, portrayals of the Magi, a five pointed star, three gifts or a combination of a star and a crown.
Three Kings Day 2014 in the United States
The United States’ Virgin Islands observe Three Kings’ Day as a public holiday, especially on the island of St. Croix where it features parades, bands, music, food and other types of entertainment. Even though in other parts of the United States Three Kings’ Day 2014 is not a public holiday, many Christians take part in Epiphany activities. Various luncheons or parties are held among churchgoers, often with treasure hunts to find a baby Christ figure. There are also Sunday school activities with Epiphany themes, such as making the star that led the Three Kings to Bethlehem. They also organize gatherings to clean up their homes and take down Christmas trees and decorations. In Louisiana, the Three Kings’ Day marks the start of the Mardi Gras season, in which king cakes are often baked. Therefore, the interval between Three Kings’ Day in Mardi Gras is sometimes referred to as the “king cake season”!