The season of Epiphany, which begins on the Feast of the Epiphany, 6th January, varies in length depending on the date set for Easter. Traditionally it lasted until the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple on 2nd February. At St Philip's we now count all the Sundays between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday as 'Sundays in Epiphany'.
With the exception of Easter, Epiphany is the oldest season of the church year. In the early church, it was a time when new converts were admitted to the church after a period of preparation. The word Epiphany comes from the Greek, epiphaneia, which means, manifestation, showing forth.
At first, Epiphany was a celebration of both the birth and baptism of Jesus. As Christmas became a separate season, the Epiphany changed became a celebration emphasise the manifestation, the revealing, of Jesus to the world, acknowledged by the wise men from the East who came to worship him. The Bible does not say how many wise men there were, nor does it say that they were kings. They presented three kinds of gifts to the Christ Child: gold, frankincense and myrrh.
When his parents presented Jesus at the Temple, Simeon called him a "Light to the Gentiles" and the "Glory of Israel". When Jesus was baptised, he was declared to be God's beloved Son, with whom God was well pleased.