The word Epiphany means “manifestation,” and the feast is a celebration of the manifestation of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. This is one of the most significant moments in Christian doctrine, almost as significant as His birth and His death. Cultures around the world celebrate this feast, though different regions celebrate in different ways. Learn more about what Epiphany means in the Catholic faith.
What is Epiphany?
Epiphany, also known as Feast of the Epiphany or Three Kings’ Day, commemorates the first manifestation of Jesus Christ to the gentiles, or the first believers in Jesus as the Son of God. In the West, we celebrate the first visit by the Magi, or Three Kings. Celebrations in the East focus on the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River and His first miracle. Epiphany is one of the three oldest festival days, along with Easter and Christmas. It’s celebrated in most places on January 6, but in the US it’s observed on the Sunday after January 1.
How to Celebrate
The time from Christmas to Epiphany is known as the Twelve Days of Christmas, with the evening before the big day being called the Twelfth Night. As one of Christianity’s oldest traditions, Epiphany is celebrated in very symbolic ways. One way to celebrate is by baking a Three Kings cake, which symbolizes the unity of the Three Kings’ faiths. Children may receive small gifts in their shoes leading up to the day in honor of the Magi’s gifts. Some traditions even involve water as a reflection of the baptism.
The celebration of Epiphany in January predates the celebration of Christmas on December 25th. The original celebration commemorated the Nativity, Visitation of the Magi, Baptism of Christ and Wedding of Cana all in one feast. The Council of Tours separated the celebrations into Christmas Day and Epiphany in 567. Over time, these celebrations separated more and more to become the liturgical season they encompass today.
Epiphany, or Three Kings Day, is an important celebration for Catholic school students to understand. Our Orlando Catholic school located in the Catholic Diocese of Orlando is more than a place to learn; it’s a community. Our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.