Saturday, January 4, 2014

Solemnity of the Epiphany

When will be the feast of the Epiphany celebrated?

Several Catholics are still confused with the celebration of the Epiphany, commonly known as the Three Kings. Tradition dictates that this is normally commemorated on the 6th of January or 12 days after Christmas, but the recent Catholic pastoral practice set by the episcopal conference decrees that Solemnity of the Epiphany should be celebrated on the first Sunday of January or a Sunday between January 2 and January 8.

What is Epiphany?

Epiphany comes from a Greek word meaning "to reveal" or "manifestation" in lay man's term. It signifies the revelation of the Lord to man and a representation of the young Messiah as the light to all nations making Epiphany an affirmation to universal salvation. It originally celebrated four different events in the life of the Christian faith: 
1. Baptism of Jesus
2. The first miracle performed by Jesus at the wedding in Cana
3. The Nativity of Christ
4. The visitation of the three wise men known as Magi.

But recent changes in the doctrine and practices separated these four events from the Feast of the Epiphany. The commemoration of the Baptism of Jesus is now set on Sunday after the Epiphany and the first miracle is commemorated on Sunday after the Baptism of Jesus and the Nativity is celebrated during Christmas. Only the visitation of three wise men retained at the Feast of the Epiphany. Due to these changes, the Sunday of Baptism of our Lord is being considered in the Catholic church as the end of Christmas season.

Feast of the Epiphany is one of the oldest Christian traditions, even older than Christmas, and is widely considered as "the Little Christmas" feast where old Christians celebrated it with gift giving and cake preparation. Other Christian denominations in the west even practice an Epiphany home blessing ceremony where family members gathered, prayed and exchanged gifts to honour Jesus Christ as King. 

The old tradition practice of the Feast of Epiphany as a "little Christmas event" with home celebration of foods and gifts however did not survive in the East and now only commemorated with a holy observance of the Solemnity through Sunday mass celebration. 


Source of information: Catholic Liturgy Guide




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