Adoration of the Magi by Szymon Czechowicz (1689 - 1775)
Epiphany, also known as the Twelfth Day of Christmas or the Three Kings' Day, is one of the oldest Christian holidays. It is celebrated on the January 6 by both, the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Western Christianity. The name Epiphany derives from the Greek term "epiphanea" which means manifestation or appearance. The holiday celebrates the revelation of God the Son as a human being in the person of Jesus Christ.
In Western Europe, on the Feast of the Epiphany, a priest wearing white vestments would bless the Epiphany water, frankincense, gold, and chalk. Chalk would be used to inscribe the initials of the three Magi and the current year over the doors of churches and homes. The Magi are traditionally named Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. The phrase "Christus mansionem benedicat" which means "may Christ bless the house", is often added to the the inscription.
Eastern Orthodox Churches celebrate Epiphany, which is often called Theophany, to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ as well as his baptism in the river Jordan.
This year's celebrations are overshadowed by the inhuman terrorist attack against the Coptic Church in Alexandria, Egypt that was perpetrated on the January 1, 2011. It is estimated that at least twenty one people were killed and another ninety seven were injured by the attack that was executed during the Sunday mass.
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