Tag Archives: Magi

Today is Epiphany/Three Kings Day

Adoración de los Reyes Magos
El Greco (1541–1614)
Public Domain

Epiphany or Three Kings Day is January 6 and as the Twelfth Night officially ends the Christmas season. It is often celebrated on the nearest Sunday between January 2 and January 8.

It is a day to celebrate the baptism of Jesus and the arrival of The Magi (Three Kings or Wise Men). In the Middle Ages Christmas was celebrated from Christmas Eve to January 6. And Epiphany Day was a major celebration well into the mid 19th century when its importance diminished. The Catholic Church no longer requires January 6 to be celebrated as a solemnity on that exact day and celebrates it on the Sunday that follows it. Some Protestant churches celebrate the Epiphany season from January 6 till Ash Wednesday. Orthodox Christians celebrate it on January 19 as they follow the Julian calendar.

In many Spanish speaking countries, Dia de los Reyes (Three Kings’ Day)is celebrated with special foods and gatherings. Many European countries have their own unique observances as well. Children often gets treats or presents on this day. In Italy, La Befana flies through the night on January 5 on a broomstick to deliver gifts to good kids and give coal to the bad ones.

So who were the Three Kings? There is a lot of debate on this. Some doubt they existed and some consider it a pious fantasy. Much of what is called the Three Kings today are embellishments that have been added over time. The Gospel of Matthew, the earliest source of the story, is quite simple and only refers to them as Magi from the east. Nor does it say there were only three but three gifts were given. And it is possible they were actually Nabataeans, a trading people that lived in northern Arabia to the Southern Levant whose capital is known as Petra today. Dwight Longnecker in his book Mystery of the Magi examines this evidence. Worth reading if you want to learn more about who these Magi might really have been.

TODAY IS THE FEAST OF THE HOLY INNOCENTS

Massacre of the Innocents
Matteo di Giovanni (1435–1495)
Public Domain

The Feast of the Holy Innocents or Innocent’s Day is to remember the slaughter of male children 2 years and younger in Bethlehem and in its vicinity by Herod the Great. The story as related in the Gospel of Matthew (2:16-18). Herod was angered when the Wise Men did not return to him after locating the Messiah. No one can say with certainty how many were killed. Some have doubted it happened at all but it would be consistent with Herod the Great’s personality. He had no problems executing even members of his family if he thought they were betraying him. And since Bethlehem was a small area, the slaughter may not have been widely noticed.

Nearly all the Christian churches observe the feast day though not on the same day. The Catholic Church and most western churches observe it on December 28 but Eastern Orthodox celebrates on December 29. The slain children are treated as martyrs of the church. It is not certain when it was first observed. While the exact date of the deaths is unknown, it is kept in the octave of Christmas as followed after the birth of Jesus. However it is believed it took place 2 years after Jesus birth. Matthew says the Wise Men saw child with his mother indicating he was no longer a baby. And Herod had learned from the Wise Men the approximate date of the birth.

Sources:

Today is Epiphany Day

Wise Men Adoration(Bartolomé Esteban Murillo,1618-1682)
Photo: Public Domain (Wikipedia)

Epiphany Day occurs on 6 January and marks the end of the Christmas season except for the Orthodox Christians who follow the Julian calendar. In England it is celebrated as the Twelfth Night (remember the song the Twelve Days of Christmas). Many cultures celebrate it with special foods and it is considered unlucky by many to leave Christmas decorations up after the Epiphany. The Roman Catholic Church celebrates it on 6 Jan but not as a day of obligation. Usually it is celebrated in a Sunday mass that falls before or just after the date (2-8 January).


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Today is Epiphany Day

Wise Men Adoration(Bartolomé Esteban Murillo,1618-1682)
Photo: Public Domain (Wikipedia)

Epiphany Day occurs on 6 January and marks the end of the Christmas season except for the Orthodox Christians who follow the Julian calendar. In England it is celebrated as the Twelfth Night (remember the song the Twelve Days of Christmas). Many cultures celebrate it with special foods and it is considered unlucky by many to leave Christmas decorations up after the Epiphany. The Roman Catholic Church celebrates it on 6 Jan but not as a day of obligation. Usually it is celebrated in a Sunday mass that falls before or just after the date (2-8 January).


MacHighway - Web Hosting for Mac Users, by Mac Users, Since 1997