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Epiphany in Australia

Epiphany is a Christian observance in countries such as Australia on January 6 each year. It commemorates the three wise men’s (or kings’) visit to Jesus after his birth, as told in the Christian bible. This feast is also known as the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

Is Epiphany a Public Holiday?

Epiphany is not a public holiday. Businesses have normal opening hours.

3 Wise men following the star.

Various artwork relating to Epiphany often show the three wise men (or kings).

©iStockphoto.com/kim258

What Do People Do?

Many churches, particularly Catholic churches, in Australia have special Epiphany services on or around January 6 each year. Many Epiphany church services focus on the three wise men’s (or kings’) visit to Jesus after his birth. However, many churches also focus on the theme of Jesus’ baptism, in which Jesus’ public life begins with his baptism by John the Baptist. Some churches may have social gatherings, including morning teas, after an Epiphany church service.

Epiphany falls within the Australian school summer vacation period so it is a time for many families to go on vacation either interstate, at a beachside, or overseas. Epiphany occurs in January, which is one of the hottest months of the year in Australia.

Public Life

Epiphany is not a nationwide public holiday in Australia. However, this observance falls in the school vacation period in Australia so schools throughout the country are closed on January 6.

Background

Epiphany 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).
  • Myrrh (used for embalming, as well as a salve for irritations such as diaper rash).

Many Orthodox churches consider Jesus’ baptism to be the first step towards the crucifixion. The liturgical color for the Epiphany season is white. Some churches and church-run children’s groups in Australia are named after the Feast of Epiphany.

About Epiphany in other countries

Read more about Epiphany.

Epiphany Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2015TueJan 6EpiphanyChristian
2016WedJan 6EpiphanyChristian
2017FriJan 6EpiphanyChristian
2018SatJan 6EpiphanyChristian
2019SunJan 6EpiphanyChristian
2020MonJan 6EpiphanyChristian
2021WedJan 6EpiphanyChristian
2022ThuJan 6EpiphanyChristian
2023FriJan 6EpiphanyChristian
2024SatJan 6EpiphanyChristian
2025MonJan 6EpiphanyChristian

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