JANUARY 6TH – EPIPHANY DAY
This Feast Day is one of the greatest days of the Christian year. It ranks in importance with Christmas and Easter. In many parts of the world, this Feast Day is celebrated with even greater solemnity than Christmas itself. In English, we are accustomed to hearing this Feast Day called “Epiphany” a word which means “manifestation” or “appearance”. On this day, the Orthodox Church celebrates the Baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan River by St. John the Baptist (he is called “the Baptist” because he baptized Christ.) Epiphany Day is also called “Theophany” which means “God shows himself to us”. The importance of this Feast Day lies in the fact that for the first time the Holy Trinity was revealed for all manking to know and believe, (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit). When Jesus Christ was baptized in the River Jordan, a voice was heard from the heavens above saying, “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased.” The Father whose voice was heart from the heaven was God. The white dove was the symbol of the Holy Spirit which descended upon Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Thus, we have the Holy Trinity being revealed to all that day, almost 2000 years ago. This is why we call this day the day of illumination (light) and manifestation (appearance) The Holy Trinity made its appearance, and we have been illuminated by this wonderful truth and blessing. The Greek Orthodox calls this day Ta Fota, which means the day of “Lights”. On this day we have the traditional blessing of the waters. Since the waters of the Jordan were blessed by the presence of Jesus Christ, it is a source of Divine Grace and blessing, and we bless ourselves and our homes with the waters of the “Sanctification Service” which is held every January 5th and 6th.
The service on January 5th is called Megas Aghiasmos, or Great Service for Blessing Holy Water. On this day all Holy Water bottles are filled and given to the faithful for use during the year in their homes. The service on January 6th is called Megas Aghiasmos, or Great Service for Blessing Holy Water, and the water that is blessed is given to the faithful to drink. The Priest also blesses all Orthodox homes with the sanctified water of the Epiphany Service. In many parts of Greece and in the Southern States of America, the traditional blessing of the waters is observed, and then a cross is thrown into the waters, and young men dive into the water to get the cross. This is all part of the celebration of this great Feast Day of our Church.
Epiphany Day is a day of illumination and sanctification. Let us pledge ourselves to a greater participation in the sacramental life of the Church of Christ. When the Priest blesses our homes, let us all pray that the blessing of the Epiphany Season be with us throughout the year and may our homes be sanctified with our prayers, Christian living and spiritual direction in our lifetime.