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3 things to know about the Feast of Epiphany

3 things to know about the Feast of Epiphany

How Epiphany is celebrated in the Western Church

In the West, Epiphany is sometimes called "Three Kings Day" and occurs on the 12th and final day of Christmas on the liturgical calendar.

The day marks how the Magi from the East traveled for 12 days across the desert to pay homage to Jesus following a star that they believed heralded the arrival of a new King. 

The Gospels do not say how many Magi traveled from the East, but because three gifts are listed it has led to the idea and tradition that there were three wise men who made the journey.

According to the Biblical Archaeology Society, scholars and theologians have debated the significance of the gifts that were given to Jesus. Gold, frankincense, and myrrh were valuable items that would have been the standard gift to honor a deity or king in the ancient world. 

Some scholars also say that the gifts were chosen in light of their spiritual symbolism about Christ with "gold representing His kingship, frankincense a symbol of His priestly role, and myrrh a prefiguring of His death and embalming — an interpretation made popular in the well-known Christmas carol 'We Three Kings.'"

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