Feast of the Epiphany, or Theophany, along with Easter , is the oldest Christian holiday. It is devoted to the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist in the Jordan River.
According to Christian doctrine, it was after the Baptism of Jesus began to educate people, illuminating them with the light of truth. In addition, the Baptism of Christ, mankind partake of His divine grace received in the sacrament of purification of water of life, bestowing eternal life. Therefore, the adoption of the sacrament of baptism is a prerequisite accessories faithful to the Church.
In the Western church ceremony is known as Epiphany (Greek Epiphany, Theophany), because at the time of the Baptism of Jesus Christ was a special event of the three persons of the Godhead: God the Father from heaven testified to baptize the Son and the Holy Spirit in a dove descended upon Jesus, thus confirming the Word of the Father.
In the church calendar, feast of the Epiphany came in the middle of the 2nd century and first celebrated in conjunction with Christmas (the Armenian Church, and still adheres to this tradition.) In the 4th century, the celebration of Christmas was moved to December 25, and at the Epiphany will retain the same date — January 6.
Catholics central content of the Epiphany is the story of the church worship the baby Jesus pagan kings — Caspar Magi, Melchior and Balthasar, who came to Bethlehem with gifts. Therefore the feast of the Epiphany was also the name of Festum magorum (Feast of the Magi), or Festum regum (Feast of the kings). In memory of the appearance of Christ and worshiping pagans of the three kings in churches committed thanksgiving: Christ as the king sacrificed to gold as a god — incense, as a person — myrrh.
Epiphany celebration includes a visit to a solemn mass in the church and a family dinner after midnight the fire with a "Christmas log of wood." According to Western tradition, on the day of the Epiphany is committed not only to the consecration of the water, but also incense and chalk, which the believers written at the entrance to their homes the initial letters of names of the Magi, "K M B". It is believed that these letters ward off evil spirits and evil thoughts from the house and the well-being of a family living in it. Mel also kept the entire year, as well as water from the Orthodox. There is still a tradition of bonfires — "epifanskie lights" illuminate "the path of the Magi».
Russian Orthodox Church celebrates Epiphany 19 January.