Tuesday, 6 January 2015


“Baptism is not only a sacrament of our union with Christ; it is also a sacrament of our communion as the body of Christ.” - Michael Horton

January the 6th celebrates, The Epiphany (also called Theophany) which marks three important events in the Christian calendar:

  • The first is the arrival of the Magi in Bethlehem and the adoration of the Christ Child.
  • The second is the baptism of Christ by John the Baptist
  • The third the miracle at Cana, where Jesus turned water into wine, when there was no more wine for the guests at the wedding Jesus was invited to.

In the Western church, the adoration of the Magi is the most important of these celebrations while in the Eastern church, Christ’s baptism is the most important.

The word “epiphania” in Greek means “manifestation” and refers to the appearance of the Christ child to the Magi. The winter jasmine (yellow jasmine), Jasminum nudiflorum, is a flower symbolic of the Epiphany and is also an attribute of the Virgin Mary.

In Greece the traditional Blessing of the Waters takes place on this day. As part of the religious ceremonies on this day, the priest and his congregation make their way to a body of water (usually the sea) and the priest throws a crucifix into the waters after uttering the blessing. Young people dive into the waters, competing to retrieve the crucifix. The lucky person who recovers the cross and hands it back to the priest receives a special blessing and a gold cross to wear around the neck.

Schemenlauf is a noisy Austrian festival celebrating the approach of Spring on this day. In villages all over the country mummers dressed in traditional costumes made of mossy green and wearing masks parade around, dancing, singing and shouting to scare winter away. Bells are rung and drums are beaten, the day often ending with communal feasts where much wine and beer are consumed.  A similar festival is celebrated in some parts of Switzerland on January 13th.

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