epiphanyThe feast of the Epiphany (January 6) celebrates the first manifestation, or showing, of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, in the persons of the Magi, or Wise Men, from the East. In the Eastern Church, this feast is called the Theophany and recalls Jesus’ baptism, during which all Three Persons of the Holy Trinity were revealed. In England, Epiphany was called Twelfth Night because it occurs twelve days after Christmas and marked the end of the traditional Christmastide celebration. In many Hispanic countries, the giving of gifts takes place on Epiphany, following the example of the Wise Men, who brought gifts to the infant Jesus. According to tradition, there were three wise men, and their names were Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. We don’t know much else about them although tradition says that they were kings. This is almost certainly because of the prophecy in Isaiah 60:3 that “the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.” As well, Psalm 72:10 predicts that “the kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall give presents; the kings of Arabia and Saba shall bring gifts.”

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