Thursday, January 6, 2011

THE FEAST OF THE HOLY EPIPHANY (6 January)




Epiphany Celebrates the Arrival of the Three Wise Men

January 6th, is the Feast of the Epiphany. Epiphany is the traditional end of the Christmas season in the Western Church and is traditionally the day when people put away their Christmas decorations. In the Western Church, December 25th was established as the date of Christ's birth and January 6th as the date on which the Wise Men visited him. In the Eastern Church (Orthodox) January 6th was established as the date to observe the birth of Christ.

Even before the year 354, the Western Church had separated the celebration of the Nativity of Christ as the feast of Christmas and set its date as December 25; it reserved January 6 as a commemoration of the manifestation of Christ, especially to the Magi, but also at his baptism and at the wedding feast of Cana. Hungarians, in an apparent reference to baptism, refer to the January 6 celebration as Vízkereszt which term recalls the words "víz" as water, "kereszt, kereszt-ség" as baptism. In parts of the Eastern Church, January 6 continued for some time as a composite feast that included the Nativity of Jesus: though Constantinople adopted December 25 to commemorate Jesus' birth in the fourth century, in other parts the Nativity of Jesus continued to be celebrated on January 6, a date later devoted exclusively to commemorating his Baptism.


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