Happy Epiphany! Merry Old Christmas! Joyous Three Kings’ Day!

The Standard January 6, 2022

In 46 BC Julius Caesar proposed a reform to the Roman calendar, which took effect by edict on January 1, 45 BC. The Julian calendar, based on the phases of the moon, became the predominant calendar in most of the Western world until 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII encountered problems in determining the date of Easter. A slight miscalculation in the Julian calendar had accumulated over the years, so the Pope made appropriate revisions and took away ten days, eleven minutes and fifteen seconds for correct realignment. In Italy, Spain, Portugal and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the four countries that implemented the decree, October 4, 1582 was followed by October 15, technically moving Christmas from December 25 to January 6.  Pope Gregory XIII also restored January 1 as the beginning of the new year.

Protestant and Orthodox nations were slow to adopt the new calendar. The lowland regions of Belgium, which at the time were part of Holland, and the northern German states, for example, were made up of Calvinists, Lutherans or Protestant Palatines, and did not change to the Gregorian calendar until 1700.

The British government, by an act of Parliament, adopted it effective September 1752. Eleven days had to be added in Great Britain and in all of her colonies. Before 1752 Great Britain celebrated New Year’s Day on March 25, so that year became the shortest one in English history. The first day of 1753 in Britain and the American colonies was declared to be January 1.

Today, January 6, in many European countries as well as in parts of the United States historically connected with the Amish, Mennonites, Scotch-Irish  and Anabaptists, is celebrated as Epiphany, Three Kings’ Day or Old Christmas. It is the day commemorating the wise men bringing precious gifts to the child, Jesus.

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’ When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. ‘In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they replied, ‘for this is what the prophet has written: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’ Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.’ After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.” (Matthew 2:1-12)

Our worship of the long-promised Messiah, who is both King and Lord, is appropriate each and every day of the year. May we actively offer our time and our treasure – our hearts and our lives-  fully to God throughout 2022.

1 thought on “Happy Epiphany! Merry Old Christmas! Joyous Three Kings’ Day!

  1. Thank you dear Celia for this wonderful writing and thank you for your friendship and witness to our Lord Jesus Christ. Love you. Laura

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