Cultures Adapt Epiphany Celebrations to Beliefs, Traditions

By Edman, Catherine | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), January 5, 1998 | Go to article overview

Cultures Adapt Epiphany Celebrations to Beliefs, Traditions


Edman, Catherine, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Catherine Edman Daily Herald Staff Writer

There's excitement among the people as a doughnut-shaped bread is sliced and passed around.

They all wait for the hidden prize to surface.

It's Epiphany, and this game is all part of the feast, the celebration they hold to honor Jesus Christ's birth and the revelation to the Magi, or three kings, that the child was from God.

Elsewhere, priests prepare for a sequence of reverent services praising God.

Water is blessed, then sprinkled throughout the church on the altar, the icons, parishioners.

They, too, are celebrating Epiphany, but their celebration centers around the baptism of Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit in the river Jordan and the revelation to John the Baptist, and the world, that Christ was indeed God, explained Niko Yelic, assistant to the priest at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Elmhurst.

Christians throughout the area began celebrating Epiphany on Sunday. For some, the celebration ended when they left church. For others, it begins tonight or Tuesday, and continues for the next week.

The differences between Christian Epiphany celebrations go beyond mere traditions, as with Christmas. Many churches are actually celebrating different events.

Theophany, as Epiphany is called in the Orthodox Church, is the feast celebrating the "appearing of God to the world that he has come to the world in the flesh to redeem it," Yelic explained. People in the Orthodox religions celebrate that revelation in the biblical story of Christ's baptism in the Jordan River.

But in the Roman Catholic Church, and in most Protestant religions, the celebration revolves around the story of Christ's birth in Bethlehem, and how three wise men sought to find the child they were told was from God.

There's no clear answer as to why the difference exists, although scholars have offered a wealth of suggestions without settling on one explanation, said Robert E. …

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Cultures Adapt Epiphany Celebrations to Beliefs, Traditions
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