Epiphany (from the Greek word meaning "appearance" or "to appear") is a Christian festival celebrated January 6th, 12 days after Christmas. Epiphany, often called Little Christmas, commemorates the appearance of Jesus to the Wisemen of the East.
We often use the word "epiphany" to refer to a revelation or recognition of importance in our lives. Epiphany, in the liturgical sense, is a feast day celebrated mostly in the Catholic and Orthodox faiths. Epiphany is the day Christians remember the visit of the Magi to the stable in Bethlehem. In the eastern or Orthodox rites of the Church, Epiphany is also he day which we remember the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist in the Jordan river. When John baptized Jesus, he also proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God. He said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world"
There are some who suggest Epiphany was originally established in order to commemorate the appearance of the celestial phenomenon heralding the birth of the Messiah. Still others maintain Epiphany is best remembered as the celebration of the manifestation of God's Son to the Gentile world. Yet, this would hold with the typical understanding of Epiphany as the day to celebrate the adoration of the Magi-Gentiles all, or so it seems.
As the Magi presented gifts to the Holy Child, many countries in southern and eastern Europe and also in areas of Latin America celebrate Epiphany, as the gift-giving holiday. Although Epiphany is a major feast day in the Christmas season, it receives almost no recognition in many western countries. The average American has never even heard of the feast of Epiphany.
|Jesus being baptised by John the Baptist|
|Peruvian Three Kings Day|
Mary and Joseph had traveled to Bethlehem for the census where of course, Jesus was born. But according to Jewish law, they needed to wait until the eighth day after the birth of Emmanuel or Jesus. On the eighth day, a Hebrew male child is taken to the temple and presented for circumcision and the mother has her ritual purification. We refer to this eight day period as the Octave of Christmas and the whole of the Christmas season as Christmastide.
During this time, the first Slaughter of the Holy Innocents (Liturgical year: December 28th) by King Herod, occurred. Herod had heard rumors of a "new king" that was born. He ordered all male children under two killed in an effort to rid the area of the rumored king and potential threat to his throne. Mary and Joseph were preparing to leave, having been warned in dreams of the immanent danger. It was then that the Wisemen arrived and located the place where Jesus was. They encouraged Mary and Joseph to flee to Egypt for safety from Herod's soldiers.