If you are familiar with the song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, then you know that Christmas is a twelve day celebration of the Birth of the Christ Child. The First Day of Christmas is December 25.
The word "epiphany," comes from the Greek word ἐπιφάνεια, epiphaneia, "manifestation", and celebrates the manifestation of God in Man through the birth of His Son, Jesus of Nazareth.
In the Western communicant churches, the feast focuses on the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus, thus commemorating the manifestation of Jesus to the Gentiles.
For the Eastern churches, the day commemorates the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. Eastern Churches following the Julian Calendar generally observe Feat of the Theophany (εοφάνεια, Τheophaneia meaning "vision of God") on 19 January because of the 13-day difference today between that calendar and the Gregorian calendar used by the Western churches.
In the Anglican tradition, which was foundational to Hawai`i's Royal Family's High Church traditions, the Feast of the Epiphany is celebrated on Twelfth Night, January 5, the eve of Epiphany, which is January 6. In the Church of England, the Monday after Epiphany is known as Plough Monday, and in times past, marked the beginning of the English agricultural year.
Since 1970, the rule for the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church is: "The Epiphany of the Lord is celebrated on 6 January, unless, where it is not observed as a Holy day of obligation, it has been assigned to the Sunday occurring between 2 and 8 January."
Next year, Advent begins on 30 November. The second Sunday in Advent is December 7, the third is December 14, and the fourth Sunday in Advent is December 21. These holy days punctuate the Advent season of preparation for the celebration of the coming of Christ the Newborn King on December 25. Christmas Day marks the beginning of the Christmas Season, which lasts through Twelfth Night, January 5. Epiphany will be on January 6, concluding the holy days collectively known as "The Christmas Holidays." So, the next time someone wishes you "Happy holidays," think of the six Christian holy days celebrated at this season, as well as the seasons of anticipation, preparation, and celebration they intersperse.
May your own epiphany bring you enlightenment, peace, and joy in the New Year.