The Manifestation of Christ
We are currently in the season after Epiphany, also known as Epiphanytide. We celebrate Epiphany January 6 of each year. During this season, we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus (the first Sunday following Epiphany), as well as the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. Epiphany ends the 12 days of Christmas, also known as Christmastide, and lasts until Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. In the Anglican tradition, the last Sunday of Epiphany may be celebrated as Transfiguration Sunday.
The word “epiphany” comes from the Greek epiphaneia, which means “manifestation,” (this comes from the verb phainein meaning “to appear”). It refers to the appearance of Jesus as Savior of the world, both to Israel and the Gentiles. It is commonly linked with the visitation of the Magi who were most likely Gentiles (Matthew 2:1–12). The Church has long viewed the Magi finding Jesus as a fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 60:1–3, mainly verse 3.
Epiphany has different names and traditions in different cultures. In some Central and South American countries, Epiphany is called “Three Kings’ Day,” and the night before is the time for opening Christmas presents. In some cultures, it is common to celebrate Epiphany with a special King’s Cake as part of the festivities. We observe Epiphany as a single day, with the Sundays following Epiphany (during Epiphanytide) counted as ordinary time.
For this reason, on Epiphany Sunday, as well as the day, we celebrate the Baptism and Presentation of Jesus, we use white paraments. For the remainder of the season we use green.
Another Epiphany tradition is the chalking of the door, which takes place on January 6. This is often done during a house blessing. The symbols +C+M+B+ with two numbers before and two numbers after (for example: 20+C+M+B+19) might be seen written in chalk above the doorway of Christian homes. The letters are the initials of the traditional names of the Three Magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. These letters also abbreviate the Latin phrase Christus mansionem benedicat, "May Christ bless the house." The beginning and ending numbers are the year, 2019, for example. The crosses represent Christ.
As we continue through this season, let us remember Christ’s appearance as Savior of the world.