January 6th is a Holy Day called Epiphany. It is celebrated in most liturgical churches as the manifestation of Jesus to the Gentiles in the form of the three magi who come to bring the Christ-child gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.
The celebration of Epiphany dates back to at least 361AD when it is mention by Ammianus Marcellinus. Many of the early church fathers noted that this was also considered Jesus’ birthday and the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches continue to celebrate it as the birth of the Christ-child.
The Roman Catholic Church and other western liturgical churches however, celebrate it as the visitation of the Magi or three Kings to visit the Christ. While there is no Biblical basis for the belief that there were only three kings, the pious tradition likely stems from the fact that there were only three gifts brought to the child.
Also within the western liturgical churches, the Epiphany marks the end of the twelve days of Christmas. In earlier times, priests would chant the proclamation of the dates of the liturgical calendar, such as the date for Easter, Pentecost and the First Sunday of Advent, to the people on this day.
Before the reforms of Vatican II, Epiphany was one of several holy days that merited an Octave of celebrations. An Octave is an 8 day period of masses dedicated to the feast itself. The Sunday that fell within that octave was the Feast of the Holy Family. This helped to emphasize the wholeness of the Christ-child in both his divinity and his humanity.
In both Eastern and Western Churches, Epiphany is a time for the blessing of Holy Water and the Blessing of Houses. These are rich traditions in which we welcome the Christ-child into our homes and pray for the blessings of Christ upon our homes and our families.
Saint Francis of Assisi Old Catholic Church located in the Chapel at St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church at 3321 Wheeler Road in Augusta, GA, will have Mass for the Epiphany on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 6:00 PM. St. Francis will be using a traditional Old Catholic liturgy that is similar to the traditional Latin Mass said in English. They will also be providing Holy Water and blessed Chalk for the faithful to use to bless their homes. For more information, you can visit them on the web at http://www.stfrancisfcc.org.