IN THE Christian calendar, January 6 is celebrated as Epiphany, also known as the Day of the Magi.
The ancient festival is also on the 12th of Christmas and has been celebrated in Europe since the 4th century, often associated with the Magi or the Three Wise Men.
What is the Epiphany?
Epiphany is a Christian holiday, also known as the twelfth day of Christmas, which falls on January 6 and marks the official end of the holiday season.
The ancient celebration marks the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, as well as the visit of the Magi, which is why it is also known as the “Feast of the Magi”.
The word Epiphany comes from the Greek and means “manifestation”.
It has been celebrated in Europe since the 4th century, associated with the Magi or the Three Wise Men.
The Gospel of Matthew says that the three kings followed a star through the desert to Bethlehem, bringing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
The gold represented his royal position, the incense his divine birth, and the myrrh his mortality.
When is the Epiphany celebrated?
Until the 19th century, January 6 was as important a holiday as Christmas Day.
And during medieval times, Christmas was celebrated during the 12 days of Christmas Eve on December 24, until Epiphany.
Today, when it is celebrated and for how long it differs between Protestants and Catholics.
While the Catholic Church observes the epiphany as one day, for many Protestant churches the epiphany lasts from January 6 through Ash Wednesday in February and the beginning of Lent.
Christians know the six Sundays that follow Epiphany as the time of manifestation.
Some American churches celebrate their feast of Epiphany on the Sunday following January 6, while Orthodox Christians remember it on January 19.
How is the Epiphany celebrated in the world?
Pope Francis often organizes the annual Vatican Mass for the Epiphany in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
But Mass isn’t the only way Epiphany is marked, with a variety of festivities taking place around the world.
In the Spanish-speaking world, the epiphany is known as Día de los Reyes (the day of the three kings).
In Mexico, for example, crowds gather to taste the Rosca de Reyes, the bread of the kings.
In some countries, a figure of Jesus hides in the bread, and whoever finds it has a Candlemas festival in February.
In some European countries, children remove their shoes the night before to fill themselves with gifts, while others leave straw for the horses of the wise men.
There are also celebrations that represent the baptism of Jesus.
Greek and Eastern European Orthodox priests throw a cross into the water and divers compete to find it first.
In Prague, Czech Republic, there is a traditional Three Kings swim to commemorate Epiphany Day in the Vltava River.
In Venice, a traditional regatta that started as a joke in the 1970s has now turned into a true annual festival.
And in New York, the Latino museum El Museo del Barrio holds an annual parade with thousands of colorful floats and puppets.
Is Epiphany a party?
The old feast day is a day of celebration in many countries of the world, and Catholic and Orthodox countries generally mark it as a public holiday.
This includes Austria, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland, Ethiopia (but on a date that varies each year), parts of Germany, Greece, Italy, Slovakia, Spain, and Uruguay.
Britons hoping for another public holiday will be disappointed – in the UK there is no public holiday to honor Three Kings Day.
Colombia and the Philippines have the highest number of holidays each year, each with a whopping 18 respectively.
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