Yorkshire Times
Voice of the North
Jan Harris
Assistant Editor
4:00 PM 3rd January 2020

What Is Epiphany And When Is Twelfth Night?

Epiphany or The Feast of the Three Kings
Epiphany or The Feast of the Three Kings
Epiphany or The Feast of the Three Kings is a Christian feast day celebrated each year on the 6 January. The Church of England says Twelfth Night is 12 days after Christmas Day, which means Twelfth Night would fall on 5 January.

Epiphany is the day that the three kings (or wise men) visited Jesus in Bethlehem, after following a bright star, and presented their gifts to the baby Jesus of gold (to symbolise his royal birth), frankincense (to represent his divine birth) and myrrh (to recognise his mortality).

In some countries Epiphany is a national holiday but not in the UK.

The 12 days of Christmas is the period in Christian theology that marks the time between the birth of Christ and the coming of the Magi or the three wise men.

Time to pack away the decorations for another year
Time to pack away the decorations for another year
It begins on 25 December (Christmas) and runs through to 6 January (the Epiphany, sometimes also called Three Kings' Day). Christmas Day is considered the first day of Christmas, so the Epiphany is on 6 January, meaning that the Twelfth Night is the night before on 5 January each year.

The word Epiphany comes from the Greek, meaning “manifestation or to reveal”, in this case the manifestation of Christ to the Magi (Three Kings).

However, today we mainly refer to Twelfth Night as the end of Christmas and the day when traditionally the decorations should be taken down for another year.

Recycle your tree - photo by Hackney FIS
Recycle your tree - photo by Hackney FIS
Some people believe that you will have bad luck all year if the decorations are left up beyond Twelfth Night or Epiphany.

So this weekend is the time to take down your tree and all the Christmas decorations around your house. They are a joy to put up but somehow a chore to take down.

The Victorians are believed to have started the tradition of taking down decorations and Christmas trees so that everybody could return to work after the festivities.

It was the tradition in medieval times right up to the 19th century to celebrate Christmas for 12 days and so 5 January (Twelfth Night) was just as important a day to celebrate as Christmas Day is to us today.

Shakespeare's play Twelfth Night (or What You Will) has an association with feasting and merriment. It is thought that it was performed on Twelfth Night in Tudor times as a fitting end to the Christmas season.

Recycle your Christmas cards
Recycle your Christmas cards
So the Christmas festivities are over for yet another year. Most of us are back at work or will be after the weekend and it's time to recycle the tree and cards and pack away the decorations until Christmas 2020!