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What is the Epiphany? When is it celebrated?

The Epiphany is the manifestation of Christ to the peoples of the earth. During the first centuries of the Christian Era, the winter solstice was kept on Jan. 6 at some places . In opposition to pagan festivals, Christians chose this day to celebrate the various manifestations, or “epiphanies,” of Jesus’ divinity. These showings of his divinity included his birth, the coming of the Magi, his baptism, and the Wedding at Cana where he miraculously changed water into wine. The day was called “The Feast of Lights.”

The Celebration of the Son of God replaced celebration of the sun. Baptisms were done, and a season of preparation was instituted. It was later called Advent. By the fourth century,  the solstice was kept on Dec. 25.  The Celebration of Jesus’ birth (Christmas) was then moved to December 25 in both eastern and western churches. The western church commemorated the coming of the Magi on Jan. 6. The eastern church continued to celebrate the Baptism of our Lord and the Wedding at Cana on Jan. 6. In the east, the day was called “Theophany” (manifestation of God). The coming of the Magi is celebrated on the Feast of the Epiphany, Jan. 6, in the Book of Common Prayer (BCP). The Baptism of our Lord is celebrated on the First Sunday after the Epiphany.

Learn more about the Liturgical Calendar in the Episcopal Church

Collect for January 6 (The Epiphany)

O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son
to the Peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by
faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to
face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.