Today I feel guided to share and learn about this holiday. On this day of Americans marching the streets to demand election repairs, children and other people are gathering and enjoying each-other and a child being born or baptized. Internationally children today woke up to gifts from magical beings who were once called to Christ’s birth on this day. Christian tradition is very old in our collective consciousness so I have been investigating it more! If you’re curious have a read of these sources I’ve quickly found online...
“When is Epiphany?
Epiphany falls on January 6, which in 2021 is a Wednesday.
The festival comes from the Greek word which means ‘reveal’, as the date marks the day the baby Jesus was ‘revealed’ to the world.
Epiphany is a special part of Christmas and the story of Jesus’ birth, as it marks when the three wise men followed a star to visit the son of God.
In some countries, the festival is just as important as Christmas Day itself.
In Spain and some Latin American countries, people day the day off work on January 6 and hold parades and fireworks displays in the streets.
Some even believe it is not Santa Claus who bring gifts for children, but in fact the three wise men.
The night before Epiphany, children leave out drinks for the three wise men in the same way you leave out a mince pie for Santa, and fill their shoes with straw for the kings’ horses to eat.
The next day they will find cookies, sweets or gifts in place of the drinks they left out.
In France, people celebrate Le Jour des Rois (the Day of Kings), which is sometimes called the Fête des Rois.
Children and adults go to parties and enjoy the galette des rois, or “cake of kings” - a round, flat puff pastry cake with two hidden figurines inside.
Whoever finds the ‘faves’ hiding in the almond cream will become the King or Queen for the day and everyone must obey their demands.
Eastern Orthodox Christians actually celebrate Christmas on Epiphany.
However, their Epiphany is celebrated on January 19 and commemorates the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan.
To mark the occasion, many submerge themselves in ice water - a tradition that is believed to wash them of their sins.
Some even dip themselves in the water - which they believe becomes holy on the day of Epiphany - three times, to mark the Holy Trinity.”
“ Which countries observe Epiphany in 2021?
AndorraJan 6 AustriaJan 6 BelgiumJan 6 CroatiaJan 6 CyprusJan 6 FinlandJan 6 GermanyJan 6 GreeceJan 6 GreenlandJan 6 LiechtensteinJan 6 PolandJan 6 Puerto RicoJan 6 San MarinoJan 6 SlovakiaJan 6 SpainJan 6 SwedenJan 6 SwitzerlandJan 6 US Virgin IslandsJan 6 UruguayJan 6 Vatican CityJan 6 It is always celebrated on January 6th and commemorates the presentation of the infant Jesus to the Magi or the three wise men. In some countries, it may be known as 'Three Kings Day'.
History of Epiphany
Interestingly, the bible doesn't mention how many wise men there were - just that three gifts were given and that they came from the east.
The common consensus is that there were between two and twenty wise men. They were likely to have been Zoroastrian Priests. It wasn't until about 500AD that three was accepted to be the standard number of wise men - the reasoning simply due to the number of gifts.
To further complicate matters, the wise men may not even have been men or wise. In 2004, a report by the general synod of the church of England concluded that 'magi' gives no indication as to number, or gender, or even to the level of wisdom.
The distinct lack of Biblical detail hasn't stopped the Magi being counted, coronated and christened - the traditional names of the threes kings are Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar, who are said to represent Europe, Arabia and Africa respectively.
Epiphany is derived from the Greek word 'epiphaneia' and means manifestation. In religious use, the term means the appearance of an invisible divine being in a visible form.
The celebration of the Epiphany began in the Eastern Church and included a celebration of Christ's birth. However, by the 4th century AD, the various calendar reforms had moved the birth of Christ to December 25th and the church in Rome began celebrating January 6th as Epiphany. Armenian Orthodox Christians still celebrate the birth of Christ on January 6th as their Church was established before Rome made the date change.
Epiphany around the world
In Denmark, Epiphany was abolished as an official church festival in 1770. However, the previous evening, Twelfth Night, is celebrated in some homes by burning a special Twelfth Night candle with three wicks. When the candles thus go out, it symbolises the end of Christmas. Only a few locations in Denmark still celebrate the evening with a procession where people in fancy dress and go from house to house.
As Epiphany is not a public holiday in France, the traditions are instead observed on the first Sunday in January. Since the 14th-century people in France have eaten a cake called La galette des Rois to celebrate Epiphany. According to the tradition, the cake must be divided so that each guest gets a slice, plus an extra slice called the part du Bon Dieu/ Vierge/ Pauvre (Good Lord / Virgin / Poor ) which is kept in reserve should any unexpected stranger turn up. The cake is typically bought in a boulangerie and made of puff pastry with an almond filling. A charm is often hidden in the cake. The Lucky person that finds the charm then becomes the king or queen for the day.
As you travel east in Europe, water plays a more important in Epiphany celebrations with the throwing of a wooden cross into the sea to see who can recover it first a common tradition in Greece and Bulgaria.
The Orthodox Church celebrates Epiphany on January 19th, though the festival commemorates the baptism of Jesus (explaining the water festivities) by John the Baptist rather than the visit of the Magi. Jesus was baptised when he was about 30 years old, so Orthodox Epiphany has little to do with the Christmas story, though it still marks the end of the Christmas cycle.
Italy has gone in quite a different direction with Epiphany. It is the visit of a witch rather than kings which is the focus of festivities. Befana is an old soot-covered woman or witch who delivers presents to Italian children on the night before Epiphany.
In Mexico, children receive presents on Epiphany rather than Christmas Day.