What Is Epiphany? Christians Around The World Celebrate Twelfth Night Of Christmas

06/01/2016 12:43 GMT | Updated 06/01/2016 12:59 GMT

You may have noticed people taking their Christmas decorations down in a panic today, since today, also known as 'Epiphany' is traditionally the official last day of the Christmas period - but what exactly is it?

The sixth day of January (Twelfth Night or the 12th day of Christmas) has significance for two different reasons to Christians, depending on their particular beliefs.

While Roman Catholic and Protestant Christianity focuses on the story of the Magi or wise men visiting the newborn baby Jesus, Eastern Christians, like the Greek Orthodox, celebrate the baptism of Jesus on Epiphany and consider the day to be more important than Christmas.

three wise men

For some, Epiphany celebrates the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus

While 6 January is generally accepted as Epiphany, when celebrations actually takes place varies around the world.

Celebrations of Epiphany vary around the world.

In Spanish-speaking countries, a Rosca de Reyes or Kings’ bread is eaten, sometimes with a figurine of the baby Jesus hidden inside.

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In Spain and some other European countries, El Dia de los Tres Reyes or Three Kings’ Day is observed with parades, and children leave shoes out to receive gifts from the Magi.

In Poland, celebrations include blessing a piece of chalk and mark their doors with the year and the letters “K+M+B,” which are based on Latin and signify “May Christ bless this house”.

epiphany reyes

People wait to distribute slices of traditional Rosca de Reyes in Mexico City

epiphany

Bulgaria's chilly Epiphany celebrations

Bulgaria hold a somewhat less enjoyable tradition involving a priest throwing a wooden cross into the chilly sea which competitors dive in to try to retrieve.

In some countries it is considered bad luck to leave Christmas decorations up past Epiphany - so get that tinsel down.


Orthodox Epiphany