What is Epiphany?
Epiphany or Theophany is a Christian festival which marks the end of Christmas season. Normally, Christian people celebrate Epiphany on the twelfth day after Christmas. Since Eastern and Western Christian celebrate Christmas on different dates, they also celebrate different dates of Epiphany or Theophany.
Date of Epiphany
Western Christians determine the date of Christmas based on Gregorian calendar while the Eastern Churches set the dates according to Julian calendar which is about 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar. Thus, the celebration of Epiphany by Western Christians is normally 13 days faster than the celebration of Theophany by Eastern Orthodox Churches.
When is Epiphany 2014?
Western Christians celebrate Epiphany 2014 on Monday, 6 January 2014.
Eastern Christians celebrate Theophany 2014 on Sunday, 19 January 2014.
Origin of Epiphany
For the Eastern Christian Churches, Theophany is the celebration of the revelation of God as a human being in Jesus Christ. It includes several events throughout the life of Jesus Christ including his birth, the visit of Magi after Jesus’ birth, Jesus’ childhood events, Jesus’ baptism in Jordan, and Jesus’ miracle at the Medding at Cana. The major event celebrated in Theophany by Eastern Christian Churches is Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist in Jordan.
Different with the Eastern Christian Churches, Western Christians commemorate Epiphany as the celebration of Biblical Magi’s visit to the Baby Jesus right after his birth. Some people say that the festival commemorates the revelation of Jesus the God of Son to the Gentiles which means all non-Jewish people.
Epiphany Celebrations Around the World
Different countries have different traditions in celebrating Epiphany. Here is some traditions of Epiphany in some countries around the world.
Epiphany in Argentina
People in Argentina Epiphany as Dia de los Reyes which means “The Day of Kings”. In this country, Dia de los Reyes is the commemoration of Magi’s visit to the Baby Jesus and the confirmation of Jesus as the son of God. Argentinians celebrate Epiphany from the night of January 5 until the morning of January 6. In the morning of January 6, Epiphany cake (Rosca de Reyes) is eaten, and children get their present.
Epiphany in Bulgaria
Epiphany in Bulgaria is known as Bogoyavlenie, meaning “The Manifestation of God”. The day is celebrated with the throwing of a wooden cross to the sea, river, or lake by a priest. The wooden cross is then contested by many young men in Bulgaria who compete to retrieve it.
Theophany in Egypt
In Egypt, Theophany is celebrated on January 19 every year by Coptic Orthodox Church. Theophany is one of the seven great feasts of Coptic Orthodox Church in which fasting is forbidden. During Theophany celebration, the local priest bless many houses of the parishioners with water. Since there are too many houses to be blessed, the blessing process may continue even after the feast of Epiphany ends. There are also tradition to eat taro and sugarcane since there is a witticism that the ones who do not eat taro during Theophany would wake up headless on the next day.
Epiphany in England
People in England call Epiphany as Twelfth Night. In this event, many plays – mostly Shakespeare’s works – are performed, and traditional dishes for Epiphany are served. Some popular dishes served during Epiphany in England are the Twelfth Cake and Epiphany Tart. Twelfth Cake is a kind of fruitcakes while Epiphany Tart is a jam tart made into such form which symbolizes the stars of Bethlehem.