What Is Epiphany? And When Is It Celebrated in 2023?

Everything to know about this holiday that comes after Christmas.

Epiphany is a meaningful time for many Christians. One of the very first holidays (also called feast days) of the year, Epiphany comes on the heels of Christmas celebrations and is a time of joy and faith. While the biblical origins of Epiphany remain relatively consistent among believers, the actual holiday itself, from the date to its name to its length, actually varies greatly. What is Epiphany and what happens on Epiphany? Find out!

What is the meaning of Epiphany?

Epiphany, also called Theophany, is a celebration of God manifesting as the baby Jesus and revealing Himself to the world. The holiday also marks the day the Magi, or the three kings, visited the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. Jesus' baptism is also celebrated during Epiphany. The holiday is also sometimes known as Three Kings Day.

What happens on Epiphany?

During Epiphany, people celebrate the Magi (also known as the three kings or the three wise men, though their number is never actually revealed in the Bible) following a star to visit baby Jesus. According to the BBC, experts believe the Magi were astronomers (some cite them as astrologers) who paid close attention to the stars and planets above. The star is called The Star of Bethlehem. It has been visible several times since Jesus' birth, though it's rare: It was most recently visible in December 2020 and will likely not be seen again until 2080.

Related: 100 Epiphany Wishes to Honor the True Meaning of Three Kings Day

What is the Epiphany in the Bible?

In the Bible, the Epiphany is Jesus' visit from the Magi, aristocratic men from the east (often referred to as kings or wise men) followed a star to see the newborn baby Jesus in Bethlehem. The Magi brought Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold was considered a symbol of kings, frankincense a perfume representing divinity, and myrrh an anointing and embalming oil that symbolized death.

How do you celebrate the Epiphany?

Epiphany celebrations vary by culture. Many people in the United States honor the Epiphany by eating king cake and putting away Christmas decorations.

How long does the Epiphany last?

The Epiphany date can vary by culture and specific religion. Most commonly, the Epiphany is recognized on January 6, or the first Sunday falling between January 2 and January 8. Some religions and cultures recognize Epiphany as an entire season lasting from Christmas until February, while others celebrate Epiphany season from the Feast of the Epiphany to Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.

When is Epiphany in 2023?

Epiphany will be widely celebrated on Friday, January 6, 2023. Others may celebrate on Sunday, January 8, 2023, or throughout a much larger season, as explained above.

Related: Surprise! It’s Not Just a Quirky Song—Here’s the Real Meaning of the “12 Days of Christmas”

What is the message of Epiphany?

The message of Epiphany can be interpreted in several ways, and none are right or wrong. Some believe it is a message of faith in divine light, which guided the Magi to Bethlehem. Others interpret it as a celebration of Jesus coming to unite the world as the true "king of kings" and that He came to be a savior to all people.

Is January 6th the 12th day of Christmas?

Almost! January 6 is often regarded as Epiphany, while January 5th is called "Twelfth Night" in some areas of the world (and it's where the William Shakespeare play got its name). It is considered "Epiphany Eve" and the 12th day of Christmas.

Do Protestants believe in Epiphany?

Some Protestant religions believe in Epiphany, but it is mostly recognized by Catholic and Orthodox churches.

Next, gear up for Fat Tuesday with 75 Mardi Gras facts!