The celebration of Epiphany, the manifestation of the Lord, predates the celebration of Christmas. It encompasses a range of themes, including the coming of the Magi or the Three Kings, the Baptism of Christ, and the Marriage at Cana. Epiphany is a major feast: the liturgical colour is white, and there are six candles on the altar.

In the Western Church, Twelfth Night (5 January, Epiphany Eve) had come by the early Middle Ages to celebrate the visit of the Magi. That they were foreigners reminds us of the universality of the Christmas message. At the same time, the themes of Christ’s Baptism and the Marriage at Cana were transferred to the two Sundays following Epiphany.

The Finnish name for Epiphany is loppiainen, which dates from the 1600s and is used because Epiphany marks the end of the Christmas holiday (loppu means “end”). The Christmas season does not end with Epiphany, however, but continues with the Sundays after Epiphany, the number of which depends on the date of Easter.

shepherds, angels and three kings around Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus
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