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Epiphany in the United Kingdom

Epiphany, or Twelfth Night, marks the end of the Christmas and New Year season for most people in the United Kingdom (UK). It is also an occasion for Christians to celebrate the three kings' (or wise men's) visit to Jesus shortly after his birth and Jesus' baptism.

Is Epiphany a Public Holiday?

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

Image of the Nativity scene, 3 wise men adoring baby Jesus.

Epiphany is a Christian observance that remembers the three wise men's (or Magi's) visit to Jesus.

©iStockphoto.com/duckycards

What Do People Do?

Some Christians attend special church services on January 6. Figures representing the three wise men, or the Magi, are placed in some crib scenes on Epiphany. This is especially true of crib scenes in or close to churches or church schools.

People in the UK remove their Christmas decorations from their homes, schools and workplaces on or before Twelfth Night. Many people believe that it is bad luck to display Christmas decorations after January 6. Decorations in town centers and shopping malls may stay on display for longer, as it can take many days or weeks to remove them all. The lights in these decorations are not generally turned on after January 6.

Some people hold Twelfth Night parties. They may serve a hot spicy punch called wassail or a Twelfth Night cake. A Twelfth Night cake usually contains one whole dried pea and one whole dried bean. The people who get the pea and the bean in their portion of cake are crowned king and queen for the evening.

Public Life

Epiphany is not a bank holiday in the United Kingdom.

Background

Midwinter festivals and parties have been held in the islands that now form the United Kingdom for thousands of years. When people began to convert to Christianity, aspects of the original festivals were incorporated into Christian celebrations. The Midwinter festival lasting for many days became the Twelve Days of Christmas. This period begins on Boxing Day on December 26 and lasts until the Twelfth Night. Hence, Epiphany, or Twelfth Night, marks the end of the Christmas and New Year season and the start of a New Year and church season.

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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