What Is Epiphany And When Is Twelfth Night?
Jan Harris, Assistant Editor
Epiphany or The Feast of the Three Kings is a Christian feast day celebrated each year on the 6 January. The Church of England says Twelfth Night is 12 days after Christmas Day, which means Twelfth Night would fall on 5 January.
Epiphany is the day that the three kings (or wise men) visited Jesus in Bethlehem, after following a bright star, and presented their gifts to the baby Jesus of gold (to symbolise his royal birth), frankincense (to represent his divine birth) and myrrh (to recognise his mortality).
In some countries Epiphany is a national holiday but not in the UK.
The 12 days of Christmas is the period in Christian theology that marks the time between the birth of Christ and the coming of the Magi or the three wise men.
It begins on 25 December (Christmas) and runs through to 6 January (the Epiphany, sometimes also called Three Kings' Day). Christmas Day is considered the first day of Christmas, so the Epiphany is on 6 January, meaning that the Twelfth Night is the night before on 5 January each year.
The word Epiphany comes from the Greek, meaning “manifestation or to reveal”, in this case the manifestation of Christ to the Magi (Three Kings).
However, today we mainly refer to Twelfth Night as the end of Christmas and the day when traditionally the decorations should be taken down for another year.
Some people believe that you will have bad luck all year if the decorations are left up beyond Twelfth Night or Epiphany.
So this weekend is the time to take down your tree and all the Christmas decorations around your house. They are a joy to put up but somehow a chore to take down.
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It was the tradition in medieval times right up to the 19th century to celebrate Christmas for 12 days and so 5 January (Twelfth Night) was just as important a day to celebrate as Christmas Day is to us today.
Shakespeare's play Twelfth Night (or What You Will) has an association with feasting and merriment. It is thought that it was performed on Twelfth Night in Tudor times as a fitting end to the Christmas season.
So the Christmas festivities are over for yet another year, most of us are back at work and it's time to recycle the tree and pack away the decorations until Christmas 2019!
What Is Epiphany And When Is Twelfth Night?, 5th January 2019, 20:00 PM