Should Christians observe Epiphany?

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By BibleAsk Team


Epiphany / Three Kings’ Day

The word Epiphany (Greek epiphaneia) means “manifestation.” Epiphany (also known as Theophany or Three King’s Day) is one of the three main and oldest festival days of the Christian church (the other two are Easter and Christmas). It is a Christian holiday to celebrate the following events: the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles, symbolized by the Magi (Matthew 2:1-12; Luke 2:32), the manifestation of His divinity as seen at his baptism in the Jordan River (Luke 3:21-22), and his first miracle at Cana in Galilee (John 2:1-11).

In Rome, by 354 Christ’s birth was being observed on December 25 (Christmas), and later in the 4th century the church of Rome started celebrating Epiphany on January 6. In the modern West, the evening before Epiphany is called Twelfth Night. The time between December 25 and January 6 is known as the Twelve Days of Christmas. Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, and other Western churches celebrate this holiday.

Eastern Christians, on the other hand, celebrate Epiphany on January 19, since their Christmas Eve falls on January 6. Eastern Orthodox churches commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. The location of the Al-Maghtas in Jordan, near Qasr al-Yahud in the West Bank, is considered to be the original place of the baptism of Jesus and the ministry of John the Baptist.

Ethiopian Orthodox Christians observe Epiphany, or Timket, with a great festival that starts the night before, on Ketera (January 18). In honor of Christ’s baptism, Christians accompany a replica of the Ark of the Covenant, a tabot, to a body of water. That night is dedicated to prayer and worship songs. The next morning, the worshipers are blessed with holy water, and the tabot is brought back to its church in a festive procession.

Epiphany is observed with special foods in many countries, and the young often receive small gifts in their shoes in memory of the Magi’s gifts to Christ the child. The holiday also has customs such as: the sprinkling of houses with holy water, singing, chalking the door, dressing as the Three Kings, as well as attending church services.

Should Christians Observe Epiphany?

Almost every religious holiday now kept by Christians originated in paganism, many years before the Messiah. The birthday of the sun’s child, Tammuz, became the so-called birthday of Jesus. The season of mourning for Tammuz became Lent, and the resurrection legend of Tammuz became the resurrection of Jesus. The cakes to the queen of heaven became hot cross buns, and the evil fertility rites of Ishtar turned into the celebration of Easter and so on.

So, “Is it OK to celebrate Epiphany or the birth of Christ on the 25the of December? Of course, yes. These events are filled with deep meaning for every true believer. However, neither the Bible nor history has preserved the dates of these events. And there is no Scriptural command to keep them on any specific day. Therefore, it is up to the believer to keep them or not (Romans 14:5). The Bible states, “whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

But the believer must make sure that he doesn’t adopt the unbiblical practices that are often associated with these holidays and rather keep his focus on God and His Word as the guiding principle to what should be done or avoided. The Word of God teaches, “Do not love the world or the things in the world” (1 John 2:15). Therefore, any practice that takes away from the spirit of Christ should be shunned.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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