On January the 6th, we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany, or the Manifestation of Christ. The word Epiphany means manifestation or appearance, and for the Church, this is the day when we celebrate the manifestation of our Saviour and Redeemer to the world, and remains one of the major festivals of the Church.

The Epiphany dates back to the second century, when Gnostic heretics began to observe the day as our Lord's manifestation at his Baptism. January 6th was chosen to rival a pagan festival of that time, the birth of Osiris. Gnostics, contrary to the Doctrine of the Church, did not accept the human birth of our Lord, rather they considered the Baptism of Jesus by John in the River Jordan as His first appearing, as the Holy Spirit descended from heaven upon the man Jesus.

Some time after that, the Eastern Church adopted the date and festival, but it was associated with the Nativity of Christ, consistent with Church Doctrine that Jesus is both human and Divine.

By the fourth century, however, the Western Church, centered in Rome, had established its own celebration of the Nativity of Christ on December 25th.

Toward the end of the fourth century, both the Eastern and Western Churches began to adopt one another's festivals; however, the Western Church chose to associate the Epiphany more with the visit of the Magi, and emphasize the festival as the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles.

It may be noted that while the Eastern and Western Churches have adopted each other's festivals, December 25th has never been accepted in the Armenian calendar. Doctrinally, we, Anglicans, remain in accord with the Eastern Orthodox Church, as does the Roman Church.

In England, the popular name for the Feast of the Epiphany became Twelfth Day, which concludes the Christmas festivities.