The Epiphany of the Lord

For many Christians, the feast of Epiphany culminates the Christmas season. In commercialized society, Christmas fervor eclipses the preparatory season of advent and fails to realize the nature of the feast which begins as “the twelve days of Christmas” starting with the celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord on the 25 and then concludes with Epiphany 12 days later. This theological truth should be kept in mind when one is harried about sending cards and presents. A card sent or received during this time is hardly late.  It is on the mark since Christmas is actually twelve days long. Speaking of length, the increasing length of day light beginning on the 25 (which was the equivalent to December 21 on the older Julian calendar) marked the day of the birth of Mithras, a hero made divine, who was reputed to have returned the sun to its growing strength. The Christians saw Christ as the true deliverer of that light which both guides and brings us to salvation and so they neatly “covered” a pagan feast with a Christian celebration. Although the 12 days of Christmas may conclude on January 6, transferred now to a Sunday, the Christmas season of celebration during the medieval period began on Epiphany and lasted until February 2 the Feast of the Purification which coincidently marks the halfway point of winter. So, our reflection today perhaps can be an encouragement to keep Christmas alive a bit past December 26.

January 7th, 2018