Feast of Epiphany

Recently we have had so many holidays, but now it’s over. However, not long ago, Poles won another day to laze around – 06.01 – the Epiphany. We all are very pleased with the new day off, but do we really know something about it?

The Epiphany is a Christian holiday created to celebrate the revelation of God to man, and thus human aptitude to perceive God rationally. The source of this feast is a fragment of the Gospel (Matthew), in which the three wise men come from the East to pay tribute to the newborn Jesus.

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It’s interesting that the Epiphany is one of the first Christmas feasts sanctified by the Church. This way Christians determined the beginning of the liturgical year.

According to the Christians, Epiphany is associated with a particular symbolism. Often it’s being interpreted as the revelation of God to the pagan people, but also to the people from different social and national backgrounds. That is why each of the three wise men is a bit different nowadays – the first one is black, the second very young and the third very old.

Though the Epiphany is almost always celebrated in Poland, personally, I feel that people forget how interesting and beautiful the traditions behind this feast are. So I will tell you some more about it!

Traditions:

Since the sixteenth century, gold and incense are sanctified in the Catholic Church. Furthermore, resin of the juniper was supposed to protect people from diseases and misfortune. For the same purpose they had to touch their necks with the sanctified gold.
After a ceremonial dinner a cake with an almond hidden in it is served. Finding it in your piece of cake is a sign of good health and happiness.

Another very popular tradition, especially for children, is to dress up as the wise men and knock on the doors of the neighbourhood, singing Christmas carols – in return they receive sweets.

Catholics used to buy some of the incense and chalk at the church, to take home and pencil a blessing on their own door with. Thus on the doors of many Catholic homes you can still see the letters K  (or C) + M + B, accompanied by the date of the current year. On first glance, they appear to be the first letters of the names of the three wise men, but the correct Latin inscription (C + M + B – Christus Mansion Benedicat) signifies “May Christ bless this house”.

And what is more, the 6th of January is well-known as the beginning of the carnival-another season of feasts to come!

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