The celebration of the feast of the Epiphany (the word means manifestation) on January 6 is very ancient as a decree of the Holy See dating back to 376 attests. It is traditionally one of the great feasts around which the Church year is traditionally arranged (with Sundays after the Epiphany). Sad then that in many Churches today it is actually celebrated on the preceding Sunday, and precedes only very ordinary time indeed!
The Feast actually encompasses three different 'manifestations' of our Lord's divinity:
- the visit of the Wise Men from the East (the primary focus of the liturgy);
- the baptism of Our Lord by St John the Baptist; and
- the changing of wine into water at the wedding feast of Cena.
It is also rich with devotional traditions, including the blessing of holy water (of the 'super-charged' variety!), frankinsense, gold and chalk (to be used in the annual blessing of your house).