It Seems Like a Good Day for Epiphany

posted by Jeffrey on Friday, January 06, 2006 at 8:45 AM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at*

It is January 6th. Do you know what that means? I didn't until a few days ago when I stumbled across this celebration on Google. January 6th is the Christian feast of Epiphany. The origin of this holiday can possibly be traced back as far as Clement of Alexandria in the year 45 A.D., but more definitely to Ammianus Marcellinus in the year 361 A.D..

This holiday marks the official end of the Christmas season in the liturgical year in addition to ending the Twelve Days of Christmas--the period of time from December 25th to January 6th. The festival is to commemorate the arrival and gifts of the Magi (who were not actually manger-side during the birth of Christ) to the Christ child. Their gifts serve to reveal Christ to the world as Lord and King and hence the name of the celebration is given (epiphany meaning "to show" or "to reveal").

In most Western churches, the festival is not necessarily observed exactly on the 6th of January, but mostly on the Sunday after the 1st Saturday of the month. The celebration is tied as well to the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which is celebrated on the Monday after the Epiphany Sunday (in U.S. tradition, that is--in other traditions it is celebrated on the actual Sunday after Epiphany).

So if you'd like to celebrate Epiphany this year, here are some enjoyable traditions to take part in:
  • Have a family "undecorating" party--if you have not yet taken down your Christmas decorations (since the Christmas season is officially over).
  • Read the story of Befana (see this for more info). According to legend, as the three wise men journeyed toward the manger, they came upon an old woman who was cleaning her house. They invited her to join them; she needed to continue cleaning but said she'd follow when she'd finished. But Befana never found her way to the manger, and has since been wandering the earth looking for the Christ child.
  • Bake/buy/and decorate a "king's crown" to serve for dessert. It's a traditional Epiphany cake with a trinket (traditionally a bean or figure of an unclothed baby) baked inside it. Whoever gets the piece with the trinket reigns as king or queen of the feast and gets to order everyone else around.
Want to know more about Epiphany? Here are some links: Wikipedia, New Advent, the Voice, and Epiphany in Yahoo!.

**Update: If you'd like to partake in an Epiphany Cake and live in Nashville, Provence in Hillsboro Village has them on sale today and today only! (You'll have to go there to get one, I just reserved the last one they had available for hold.) Oh and by the way, the reason that Provence has them for sale is b/c the ancient city of Provence (when it was a Roman province, before it belonged to France) was a major center from which the celebration of this holiday originated**


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