Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The 'Feast of the Epiphany' is celebrated throughout the world today ...


'The Star of Bethlehem', By Sir Edward Burne-Jones
(Image courtesy of ArtMagick.com)


Song: Surge Illuminare, By Zephyrus

The Feast of the Epiphany, for me and my family, is the 12th day of Christmas ... the day that the Magi visited the Baby Jesus.  Also known as the Feast of the Illumination, this celebration marks the formal close of the Christmas celebration.




Here is some additional, historical, insight and a link for further reading if you're interested ...

"That the Epiphany was of later introduction in the West than the Christmas festival of 25 December, has been made clear in the article CHRISTMAS. It is not contained in the Philocalian Calendar, while it seems most likely that 25 December was celebrated at Rome before the sermon of Pope Liberius (in St. Ambrose, De virg., iii, I, in P.L., XVI, 231) which many assign to 25 Dec., 354. St. Augustine clearly observes ... though, adds the saint, it was only after twelve days that Christ "appeared to the Magi in the Temple". The dies epiphaniorum, he says (P.L., XII, 1274), is by some thought to be "the day of the Baptism, or of the Transformation which occurred on the mountain".
"Finally, an unknown Syrian annotator of Barsalibi (Assemani, Bibl. Orient., II, 163) boldly writes: "The Lord was born in the month of January on the same day on which we celebrate the Epiphany; for of old the feasts of the Nativity and Epiphany were kept on one and the same day, because on the same day He was born and baptized. The reason why our fathers changed the solemnity celebrated on 6 January, and transferred it to 25 December follows: it was the custom of the heathens to celebrate the birthday of the sun on this very day, 25 December, and on it they lit lights on account of the feast. In these solemnities and festivities the Christians too participated. When, therefore, the teachers observed that the Christians were inclined to this festival, they took counsel and decided that the true birth-feast be kept on this day, and on 6 Jan., the feast of the Epiphanies. Simultaneously, therefore, with this appointment the custom prevailed of burning lights until the sixth day."   "
above from the source: The Catholic Encyclopedia:  Epiphany

Interestingly enough, my family did attend a church service on the day of the winter solstice ... the 'heathen' celebration referred to in the outake above ... December 21, 2009 ... which occurred at 9:47 a.m. WST, where we live. 

The purpose of this winter solstice service was to recognize that the light ... Light of God, through his son Jesus Christ (per our beliefs) would come into the world and every day thereafter there would be more and more Light in the world.  As our pastor said " ...Even though the date of Jesus's actual birth is debatable, the early Christians knew what they were doing: They said, 'we don't know the actual day ... but let's do this ... let's put it on this day ... the shortest day of the year ... the day with the most darkness ... because Jesus represents God's gift of light to the world'.  Then, every day after Jesus's birth, more and more of God's Light will enter the world."

A beautiful sentiment, is is not? Even those before the time of Jesus saw the remarkable significance of light coming out of the darkness. How simple, how beautiful and true ... regardless of what your personal religious beliefs might be.

Light out of Darkness ...


Image By Me: @Copyright December 2009 Michelle C. of www.whatplanetareyoulivingon.blogspot.com



Here's some more interesting reading: this site compares the birth of Jesus narratives between the different gospels: The Birth of Jesus: Comparing the Gospel Infancy Narratives, By Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.  Very useful and most imformative.



My family never takes down our Christmas decorations, or anything, until after the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6th. Some years we celebrate with a King's cake ... often we read from the Bible ... whatever we do, it is a special day for us and marks the formal close of the Christmas celebration for our family.








In closing ... just for fun and to expand your knowledge base : ) ... here  is an interesting tale about the 'Star of Bethlehem' according to the astronomer Kepler:
'Kepler and the Star of Bethlehem,Kepler's Explanation of the Three Wise Men's Guide to Jesus Christ'>.




Joyful day to you! God Bless you and yours on this special day. : )

M

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Thanks for taking a moment to share your thoughts. I'll read them and post them soon! God Bless! M