|Sadeo Watanabe- Japan|
In an earlier Blog, we mentioned the end of the Christmas season for many Christians is December 26 (some even manage to stretch it to the day after New Year), while the 12 days of Christmas only begin on December 25. But in fact the season actually ends January 6.
In the early Church, Christians, particularly those in the East, celebrated the advent of Christ on Jan. 6 by commemorating Nativity, Visitation of the Magi, Baptism of Christ and the Wedding of Cana all in one feast of the Epiphany. By the fourth century, both Christmas and Epiphany had been set as separate feasts in some dioceses. At the Council of Tours in 567, the Church set both Christmas day and Epiphany as feast days on the Dec. 25 and Jan. 6, and named the twelve days between the feasts as the Christmas season.
Over time, the
separated the remaining
feasts into their own celebrations, leaving the celebration of the Epiphany to
commemorate primarily the Visitation of the Magi to see the newborn Christ on
Jan. 6. Western Church
It seems every country has some special tradition to celebrate this important feast, which ends the Christmas season (though many Americans are not aware of this!) In Italy it is the day children receive their presents (hence the birth of Jesus on December 25 is highlighted). Children in many parts of Latin America, the
Philippines, Portugal, and also receive their
presents on “Three Kings Day. Spain
|Adoration of the Magi- S. Watanabe|
In nearly every part of the world, Catholics celebrate Epiphany with a Kings Cake, which contains an object like a figurine or a lone nut. In some locations the winner of this prize must then hold a party at the close of the traditional Epiphany season on Feb. 2. For our Community, it is a party at Mardi Gras.