The Feast of the Three Kings (Epiphany) is a notable festival for many Christians. Epiphany, one of the first holidays (also known as feast days) of the year, follows Christmas celebrations and is a time of joy and faith. While the Biblical foundations of Epiphany are primarily similar across Christians, the actual festival itself varies widely, from the date to the name to the length. What exactly is Epiphany, and what occurs on it? Discover the truth!
What is an Epiphany?
Theophany, or Epiphany, is a celebration of God expressing Himself as the infant Jesus and exposing Himself to the world. The festival also commemorates the visit of the Magi, or the three kings, to the newborn Jesus in Bethlehem. During Epiphany, Jesus’ Baptism is also marked. The Three Kings Day is another name for the festival.
Bible’s definition of the Epiphany:
The Epiphany is celebrated in the Bible as the visit of the Magi, aristocratic men from the east (also referred to as kings or wise men) who followed a star to see the newborn infant Jesus in Bethlehem. Gold was regarded as a king’s emblem, frankincense as a scent expressing divinity, and myrrh as an anointing and embalming fluid depicting death.
History of Epiphany:
On January 6 (or January 19 for those Orthodox Churches that celebrate Christmas on January 7), Christians commemorate the Wise Men (also known as the Three Kings) who visited Jesus 12 days after Christmas.
Epiphany is also remembered in certain faiths as the day when Jesus was baptized at the age of 30 and began teaching others about God. The name ‘Epiphany’ means revelation,’ and both the Wise Men’s visit and his Baptism were pivotal occasions in Jesus’ life when he was revealed to be extremely important.
Epiphany is celebrated in several churches to honor the arrival of the Three Wise Men and Jesus’ Baptism! Catholics and Orthodox Christians are the primary celebrants of Epiphany. In Orthodox churches, Epiphany is regarded as ‘The Feast of the Holy Theophany,’ as significant as Christmas.
Water is blessed at Epiphany services on the night of the feast and on the feast day (some churches only bless water at one service). This is to commemorate Jesus’ Baptism. The sanctified water is utilized in church services during the rest of the year. On the Feast of the Holy Epiphany, many people are baptized.
Following the service, a priest uses the water to bless the homes of those who attend the Church. It might take days, if not weeks, for the priest to visit all of the houses and bless them. Epiphany is a major holiday in Spain, known as ‘The Festival of the Three Magic Kings’ – ‘Fiesta de Los tres Reyes Mages,’ when Spanish and other Catholic children get their presents, which the Three Kings bring!
On the morning of the Epiphany in Spain, you can go to a local bakery and get a special cake/pastry called a ‘Roscón’ (meaning a ring-shaped roll). They’re frequently capped with a paper crown and filled with cream or chocolate.
There is usually a king and a dry bean figurine. It is packed with marzipan and a Tortell or Gâteau des Rois in Catalonia. Epiphany Eve (also known as Twelfth Night) is the traditional time to take down Christmas decorations; however, some people leave them until Candlemas.
What happens on the Feast of the Epiphany?
People commemorate the Magi (sometimes known as the three kings or the three wise men, though their number is never stated in the Bible) who followed a star to see infant Jesus during Epiphany. According to the BBC, experts think the Magi were astronomers (some call them astrologers) who paid great attention to the stars and planets overhead.
It has been observed multiple times since Jesus’ birth, but it is infrequent: it was most recently seen in December 2020 and will most likely not be seen again until 2080.
Quick Facts about the Epiphany 2022:
Let us look at some of the highlights of the Epiphany:
- Traditionally observed on January 6 (for further information, see “when is the Epiphany”)
- This day is also known as “Three Kings’ Day” or “Twelfth Night.”
- Christians all around the world celebrate it.
- Because the Magi followed a star to discover Jesus, a star is a famous Epiphany emblem.
- Crowns are a prominent emblem of this day since monarchs wear crows.
- The Bible contains the story of the three kings.
- They presented gold, frankincense, and myrrh to Baby Jesus.
- On this day, the three kings came to visit infant Jesus.
Duration of the Epiphany:
The date of the Epiphany varies according to culture and faith. The Epiphany is most usually observed on January 6, or the first Sunday between January 2 and January 8. Some religions and civilizations see Epiphany as a season from Christmas through February. Still, others observe the season from the Feast of the Epiphany until Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.
Almost! January 6 is often celebrated as Epiphany, whereas January 5 is known as “Twelfth Night” in other parts of the world (and is the name of a William Shakespeare play). Although some Protestant denominations believe in Epiphany, it is observed mainly by Catholic and Orthodox churches.
they can understand the message of Epiphany in a variety of ways, none of which are correct or incorrect. Some think the Magi were led to Bethlehem by a message of confidence in heavenly light. Others see it as a celebration of Jesus’ arrival to unify the globe as the genuine “king of kings” and a rescuer for all people.
The advent of the far-traveled magi, considered as Christ’s manifestation to the Gentiles, became an occasion in the Western churches to commemorate one portion of the tale of Christ’s birth, the Epiphany (‘manifestation’). Matthew’s story merely refers to “wise men from the east”; subsequent tradition reduced their number to three, elevated them to the status of kings, and remembered their sonorous names – Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar.
In this light, Epiphany tide is an appropriate time to pray for the Church’s global mission. During the Epiphany season, the feast of St Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity are celebrated. In the Eastern churches, the Epiphany remembers Christ’s Baptism by John, when the heavens opened, and a voice from heaven declared Jesus to be God’s chosen Son.