Epiphany 2022 meaning: What does the Three Kings’ Day feast mean and how is it celebrated? – The Sun

IN THE Christian calendar, January 6 celebrates the Epiphany, also known as Three Kings' Day.

The ancient feast day comes a day after the 12th day of Christmas, and has been celebrated in Europe since the 4th century.

What is the Epiphany?

The Epiphany is a Christian feast day, which falls on January 6 and marks the official end to the festive season.

For some it is known as the 12th day of Christmas, or Twelfth Night, but this is usually associated with January 5.

The ancient celebration marks the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, as well as the visit from the three Wise Men – which is why it's also known as Three Kings' Day.

The word Epiphany comes from Greek and means "manifestation".

It has been celebrated in Europe since the 4th century, associated with the Magi or three Wise Men.

The Gospel of Matthew says the three kings followed a star across the desert to Bethlehem, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Gold represented his royal standing, frankincense his divine birth and myrrh his mortality.



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When is Epiphany celebrated?

Up until the 19th century, January 6 was as big a celebration as Christmas Day.

And during the medieval period, Christmas was celebrated for the 12 days from Christmas Eve on December 24, until the Epiphany.

Nowadays, when it is celebrated and for how long differs between Protestants and Catholics.

While the Catholic church observes Epiphany as just a single day, for many Protestant churches, Epiphany lasts from January 6 until Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent.

The six Sundays which follow the Epiphany are known by Christians as the time of manifestation.

Some American churches celebrate their Epiphany feast on the Sunday following January 6, while Orthodox Christians remember it on January 19.

How is Epiphany celebrated around the world?

Pope Francis often holds the Vatican's annual Holy Mass for the Epiphany in St Peter's Basilica in Rome.

But mass is not the only way Epiphany is marked, with a variety of festivities taking place across the world.

In the Spanish speaking world Epiphany is known as Dia de los Reyes (Three Kings' Day).

In Mexico crowds gather to taste the Rosca de Reyes – Kings' bread.

In some countries, a Jesus figurine is hidden in the bread, and whoever finds him throws a party on Candlemas in February.

In some European countries, children leave their shoes out the night before to be filled with gifts, while others leave straw for the three Kings' horses.

There are also celebrations representing Jesus's baptism.

Eastern European and Greek Orthodox priests throw a cross into water and divers compete to find it first.

In Prague, Czech Republic, there is a traditional Three Kings swim to commemorate Epiphany Day at the Vltava River.

In Venice, a traditional regatta which started as a joke in the 1970s has now become a bona fide annual celebration.

And in New York, Latino museum El Museo del Barrio holds an annual parade with thousands of colourful floats and puppets.

Is Epiphany a public holiday?

The ancient feast day is a day of celebration in many countries around the world, with Catholic and Orthodox countries generally marking it as a public holiday.

This includes Austria, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland, Ethiopia (but on a date that varies annually), parts of Germany, Greece, Italy, Slovakia, Spain, and Uruguay.

Brits hoping for another bank holiday will be disappointed – in the UK there is no public holiday to honour the day of the three kings.

Colombia and the Philippines have the most public holidays every year, each with a whopping 18 respectively.

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