Epiphany in United States

Quick Facts

Many people in the United States annually observe Epiphany, or Three Kings’ Day, on January 6. It is a Christian observance and a public holiday in the US Virgin Islands.

Local names

NameLanguage
EpiphanyEnglish
EpifaníaSpanish
חג ההתגלותHebrew
عيد الظهور الإلهيArabic
주현절Korean
Heilige Drei KönigeGerman

Alternative names

NameLanguage
Three Kings' DayEnglish
Día los Reyes MagosSpanish
DreikönigstagGerman

Epiphany 2014

Monday, January 6, 2014

Epiphany 2015

Tuesday, January 6, 2015
List of dates for other years

Epiphany, commonly known as Three Kings’ Day in the United States, is on January 6. It celebrates the three wise men’s visit to baby Jesus and also remembers his baptism, according to the Christian Bible’s events. The United States (US) Virgin Islands observe the day as a public holiday.

Many Christians in the United States remember the three wise men's (or kings' ) visit to infant Jesus on Epiphany.

©iStockphoto.com/Jim Jurica

What do people do?

People from the US Virgin Islands celebrate Three Kings’ Day to emphasize and maintain their heritage and culture, especially on the island of St Croix where the day features parades, bands, food, music, and other types of entertainment. Although it is not a public holiday in other parts of the United States, many Christians take part in Epiphany activities such as:

Epiphany marks the beginning of the Mardi Gras season in Louisiana. It is customary to bake king cakes during this time of the year. These cakes may include a small trinket (such as a baby doll) inside. The person who gets the piece of cake with the trinket receives various privileges or obligations. For example, they may be requested to provide the next king cake. The interval between Epiphany and Mardi Gras is sometimes known as “king cake season”.

Public life

Epiphany is a public holiday in the US Virgin Islands so shops, government offices and businesses are closed. Some businesses may close early the day before the holiday. It is not a federal public holiday in the rest of the United States.

Background

Epiphany is one of the oldest Christian feasts. It was celebrated since the end of the second century, before the Christmas holiday was established. It is commonly known as Twelfth Night, Twelfth Day, or the Feast of Epiphany. It means “manifestation” or “showing forth”. It is also called Theophany (“manifestation of God”), especially by Eastern Christians. Epiphany also refers to the church season that follows the day.

It commemorates the first two occasions on which Jesus’ divinity, according to Christian belief, was manifested: when the three kings visited infant Jesus in Bethlehem, and when John the Baptist baptized him in the River Jordan. The Roman Catholic and Protestant churches emphasize the visit of the Magi when they celebrate the Epiphany. The Eastern Orthodox churches focus on Jesus’ baptism.

Symbols

Various paintings, artworks and sketches show the three wise men and Jesus. Some paintings artworks show the three wise men on the way to Bethlehem or adoring baby Jesus. The kings are important because their visit illustrates that Jesus was the king of all kings who came for the Jews and the Gentiles.

The star that guides the wise men to Christ also symbolizes Epiphany, as well as the three gifts they gave to Jesus: gold (fit for a king); frankincense (used to worship at a temple); and myrrh (used for embalming, as well as a salve for irritations such as diaper rash). Other paintings depict the story of Jesus’ baptism. Many Orthodox churches consider Jesus’ baptism to be the first step towards the crucifixion. The liturgical color for the Epiphany season is white.

About Epiphany in other countries

Read more about Epiphany.

Epiphany Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday typeWhere it is observed
SatJan 61990EpiphanyChristian 
SunJan 61991EpiphanyChristian 
MonJan 61992EpiphanyChristian 
WedJan 61993EpiphanyChristian 
ThuJan 61994EpiphanyChristian 
FriJan 61995EpiphanyChristian 
SatJan 61996EpiphanyChristian 
MonJan 61997EpiphanyChristian 
TueJan 61998EpiphanyChristian 
WedJan 61999EpiphanyChristian 
ThuJan 62000EpiphanyChristian 
SatJan 62001EpiphanyChristian 
SunJan 62002EpiphanyChristian 
MonJan 62003EpiphanyChristian 
TueJan 62004EpiphanyChristian 
ThuJan 62005EpiphanyChristian 
FriJan 62006EpiphanyChristian 
SatJan 62007EpiphanyChristian 
SunJan 62008EpiphanyChristian 
TueJan 62009EpiphanyChristian 
WedJan 62010EpiphanyChristian 
ThuJan 62011EpiphanyChristian 
FriJan 62012EpiphanyChristian 
SunJan 62013EpiphanyChristian 
MonJan 62014EpiphanyChristian 
TueJan 62015EpiphanyChristian 
WedJan 62016EpiphanyChristian 
FriJan 62017EpiphanyChristian 
SatJan 62018EpiphanyChristian 
SunJan 62019EpiphanyChristian 
MonJan 62020EpiphanyChristian 

Related holidays

Other holidays in January 2014 in United States

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