Why Do Catholics ...?

Why do Catholics celebrate the Epiphany?

“The Church observes an Octave of Christmas until Jan. 1 (after the Jewish practice of an eight-day celebration) and an extended Christmastime until Jan. 6, the feast of the Epiphany. (It is now celebrated on the Sunday between Jan. 2 and Jan. 8.),” explains EWTN.com. This year the Church will celebrate on Jan. 3.

“Its primary significance is the ... celebration of the visit of the Magi to the manger (Matthew 2:1-12). The Messiah is thus shown to have come to all people, not just the Jews. The three kings represent the three major races: Melchior, an old white man with a long white beard, bearing the gift of gold for Christ’s royalty; Caspar, young and of darker hue, carrying incense for Christ’s divinity; and Balthasar, a black man, offering myrrh for Christ’s suffering and death. The names of the Wise Men are not given in the Bible, but were supplied by later storytellers to enrich the meaning and celebration of the Epiphany.”

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Editor’s note: Christmastime in this entry refers to the 12 days of Christmas. The Christmas season ends on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, as our “Advent Guides”  state each year.

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