This post on the feast of Epiphany and the Magi it commemorates is an excerpt from the Sacred Seasons Perpetual Liturgical Wall Calendar. Let it guide you on this feast day, season, and beyond when you purchase a calendar of your own in the Journey Shop. Learn more about Epiphany in the Epiphany episode of the Sacred Ordinary Days Podcast »
Epiphany immediately follows the Christmas season, concluding twelve days of celebration and feasting.
Like the bright star in the night that it commemorates, it offers guidance for the seasons to come. While many Christian traditions simply mark Epiphany on its feast day of January 6 and return to Ordinary Time until the season of Lent, some traditions are now celebrating it as an entire season lasting from the feast of Epiphany until Ash Wednesday.
Rooted in the Greek word epiphaneia, epiphany means “a manifestation of a divine or supernatural being” or “a moment of sudden revelation or insight.” In the Christian Church, Epiphany marks the manifestation of Christ to the world, particularly through the visitation of the Magi to the Christ child—a journey made by scholars of astronomy and Seekers of the Sacred who followed a radiant star in the heavens in search of Truth.
After a long and arduous journey, these Seekers arrived at the home of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus and presented the Christ child with three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These three gifts were not traditional gifts for a young child, but rather offerings of recognition and symbols of Christ’s identity and destiny—gold to represent kingship; frankincense to represent holiness; and myrrh, an ointment commonly used for embalming, to represent death.
What is particularly significant about this visit is that the Magi, also referred to as Wise Men, weren’t followers of the Jewish faith. And yet, as they told King Herod, they had followed Christ’s star in order to come worship the newborn King of the Jews. While those who waited expectantly for the coming of the Messiah were metaphorically still sleeping, these Wise Men had studied the prophecies, looked for the signs, and followed the path laid out before them. They knew the Sacred when they saw it, and through their Spirit-led quest, they became the first Christian pilgrims, seeking after both a star in the sky and a star on the earth—the self-proclaimed Light of the World.
We, too, are called to be pilgrims on a journey in search of the Sacred, invited to follow the “star of wonder” wherever it leads. Just as the Magi were able to name the coming of the Messiah through their study of ancient prophecies and attunement to the natural world, we can become aware of the call of the Divine within our own lives by seeking out insight, tuning in to our intuition, and following the path laid out before us on our journey toward enlightenment and the Light of the World.
Whether you choose to celebrate for a day or a season, Epiphany serves as an invitation to name the manifestations of the Divine in our everyday lives and calls us to pay attention to the signsso that we, too, might become seekers of the Sacred.
What “star of wonder” is guiding you in this season? What signs are showing up in your everyday life, and which path are they inviting you to follow?