2011-12-22 / Features

Celebrating The Season Of Epiphany

Celebrants of the Christian faith and Eastern orthodox Christian religion may want to wait a few days after Christmas to start packing away their decorations and cease celebrating the holiday season. That's because it is customary to commemorate the Epiphany, which marks the day that Jesus Christ was revealed as the Son of God.

Epiphany is known by a few different names. In addition to Epiphany, the holiday is sometimes called Little Christmas and the Feast of the Three Kings. Spanish- speaking individuals refer to it as El Dia de Los Tres Reyes, which essentially translates to Day of the Three Kings.

In Western faiths, Epiphany takes place on January 6th. However, in Catholic dioceses in the U.S., it is observed on the Sunday between January 2 and January 8. Eastern Christians follow the Julian calendar rather than the Gregorian calendar. Therefore, Epiphany occurs a few days later for them, on January 19.

According to Christian tradition, Epiphany marks the day the traveling magi arrived from afar to bid welcome to the Baby Jesus.

“And they came into the house and saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell down and worshiped Him; and opening their treasures they presented to Him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11

Although the Bible doesn't specifically mention that there were three wise men, biblical historians interpret that there were only three due to the number of gifts that were presented. The names of the magi were Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar, but this is something learned post-Bible as well.

Gold represented a gift worthy of a king. Frankincense was an expensive gift valued for its wonderful fragrance and medicinal values and worship. It is thought Frankincense spoke to the worship of God. Myrrh was used as an anesthetic and in burial embalming. It is also used to anoint one in faith.

The meaning of the word “epiphany” is a revealing or an opening of one's eyes. Although Epiphany is much known for the three wise men, the significance of the day is that God revealed Himself to everyone through the human person who was His Son, Jesus. God reveals that the true God is Jesus, the Messiah, and Savior of the world, who was sent to the people for this express purpose.

The day of the Epiphany actually marks the first day of the Epiphany season, which lasts until the Lenten season on Ash Wednesday.

Although many Christians celebrate the better-known holiday of Christmas, Epiphany may have even more spiritual meaning during this holiday season.

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