Epiphany, or Twelfth Night is a holiday that marks the visit of the three wise men, or the Magi, to Jesus. This holiday is celebrated in the UK on January 6 each year, literally twelve days after Christmas Day, December 25.
The Background of Twelfth Night
The Epiphany holiday, also called the adoration of the Magi. This holiday commemorates the arrival of the Magi from the east. In the Western Christian church, they have been all regarded as saints and are commonly known as: Melchior- a king of Persia, Caspar – a king of India, Balthazar – a king of Babylon. These names apparently derive from a Greek manuscript probably composed in Alexandria around 500. The Kings brought with them gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh and presented them to Jesus in Bethlehem. The three gifts had a spiritual meaning: gold as a symbol of kingship on earth, frankincense ( an incense) as a symbol of deity, and myrrh ( an embalming oil) as a symbol of death. Sometimes this is described more generally as gold symbolizing virtue, frankincense symbolizing prayer, and myrrh – suffering. The Magi are described as ‘ falling down’, ‘kneeling’ or ‘ bowing’ in the worship of Jesus. This gesture had an important effect on Christian religious practices. They were indicative of great respect.
Epiphany in the United Kingdom nowadays
Some people attend special church services on Jan.6. Figures representing the three wise men, or the Magi, are placed in some crib scenes on Epiphany.
Epiphany or Twelfth Night signifies the end of the Christmas and New Year season for most people in the UK. So, traditionally people remove their Christmas decorations from their homes, schools, workplaces on this day.
Some people hold Twelfth Night parties. They may serve a hot spicy punch called wassail and a Twelfth Night cake called a kings’ cake. The kings’ cake is the most well-known icon of the Twelfth Night celebration. The kings’ cake has changed a lot over the years, though the tradition is still held just as much as Christmas itself. A kings’ cake is typically some form of cake with candied fruit or bread shaped into a ring.
Written by: Anna Pędziwiatr