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Epiphany in Canada

Epiphany is celebrated in Canada on January 6 each year. It remembers the three wise men’s visit to baby Jesus and his baptism, according to events in the Christian Bible. Mummers or naluyuks may visit homes in Newfoundland and Labrador at this time of the year.

Is Epiphany a Public Holiday?

Epiphany is not a public holiday. It falls on Sunday, January 6, 2019 and most businesses follow regular Sunday opening hours in Canada.

The star, illustrated above, that guides the three wise men to Jesus Christ is one of the symbols of Epiphany.
The star, illustrated above, that guides the three wise men to Jesus Christ is one of the symbols of Epiphany.
©iStockphoto.com/Ryan Lane

What Do People Do?

Many Christians in Canada take part in Epiphany activities. These activities include attending special church services, sessions, luncheons or evening events that focus on the Christian meaning behind Epiphany. Sunday schools for children may include lessons or activities about the meaning behind Epiphany.

The English custom of mummering (or mumming) is practiced in Canada’s Newfoundland and Labrador province. It may begin as early as December 26 and usually occurs on January 5, or Epiphany Eve. It involves people disguising themselves with masks or costumes to cover their identity. They visit friends’ or neighbors’ houses to perform songs or dances. Often men dress as outsized women but they try to hide their identity. People often give alcoholic beverages or sweets to the mummers.

The naluyuk is an Inuit name for a Christmas mummer. They visit children in the province during this time of the year. The naluyuks are a combination of Santa Claus and the bogeyman. They are used to frighten children into good behavior. In some cases, children sing for the naluyuks. The naluyuks show their approval by pounding their sticks on the floor. The children answer questions about their behavior during the past year and receive gifts from the naluyuks if they are happy with the answers

Public Life

Epiphany is not a public holiday in Canada.

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.

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.

Mummering around the Christmas season until Epiphany is a 200-year-old tradition in Canada. This activity declined in the 1960s but became more popular in the 1980s and 1990s. It may include the custom of the naluyuks, which has a half-foreign, half-Inuit origin.

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

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010WedJan 6EpiphanyObservance, Christian 
2011ThuJan 6EpiphanyObservance, Christian 
2012FriJan 6EpiphanyObservance, Christian 
2013SunJan 6EpiphanyObservance, Christian 
2014MonJan 6EpiphanyObservance, Christian 
2015TueJan 6EpiphanyObservance, Christian 
2016WedJan 6EpiphanyObservance, Christian 
2017FriJan 6EpiphanyObservance, Christian 
2018SatJan 6EpiphanyObservance, Christian 
2019SunJan 6EpiphanyObservance, Christian 
2020MonJan 6EpiphanyObservance, Christian 

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