1. Theophany or Epiphany and Christmas. Theophany is one of the great Feasts of the Lord of the ecclesiastical year. It is also called Epiphany and the Day of Lights and is celebrated on the 6th of January. The names of this Feast indicate the understanding of the ancient Church concerning this Feast. This understanding is connected with the revelation of God, that is, the manifestation of the One God in Trinity through the Incarnation of the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. Consequently, Theophany comprises the birth of Christ and the related events (e.g. the visitation of the Magi) and also the beginning of the public manifestation of the inca
Christmas is before us. How will we choose to celebrate it? And what, by the way, are we actually celebrating?
For Christians, Christmas is the Great Feast of the Nativity according to the flesh of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ. With inspiring eloquence, St. John the Theologian writes: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn 1:1).
The Word Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God and the door to the mystery of His Incarnation is opened by the Church’s beautiful hymnology. St. Joseph the Hymnographer chants: “The Son of the Father…has appeared to us…to give light to those in darkness and to gather the dispersed. Therefore, the far-famed Theotokos do we magnify.”
From St. John of Damascus: “A most glorious mystery is accomplished today: nature is renewed, and God becomes Man. What He was, He has remained; and what He was not, He has taken on Himself without suffering commingling or division.”
Now that the Christmas season has begun—in our secular society called the “holiday season”—there are parties held at workplaces. But we are fasting, and the celebration of the Lord’s Nativity does not comes until December 25/January 7. Fr. John Whiteford talks about how Orthodox Christians can do when they are under obligation to participate in secular celebrations during the Nativity Fast.
In the past 50 years, American culture has gone from the older practice of putting up Christmas decorations on Christmas eve, and then celebrating Christmas on the actual day (albeit New Calendar), and continuing that celebration through either New Year’s day, or Epiphany (what we usually call Theophany) on January 6th. This is evident from the older classic Christmas movies