quote:Originally posted by Jason Threadslayer: ... Epiphany, though, starts on 6 January and Old Calendrists celebrated Christmas on the 25 December... on the Julian Calendar, which is 7 January on the Gregorian Calendar. Perhaps you have one of these mixed up with a January Christmas.
Pre-4th or 5th century or so, at least in the east, January 6 was a catch-all date for celebrating several Epiphanies (or Theophanies, which is the term Eastern Churches prefer) -- there was the Nativity, or manifestation of Christ in the world, the adoration of the Magi, and the baptism of Christ. In a Sermon on Christmas, St. Gregory Nazianzus (d. AD 380) said:
quote: Of these on a future occasion; for the present the Festival is the Theophany or Birthday, for it is called both, two titles being given to the one thing. For God was manifested to man by birth. On the one hand Being, and eternally Being, of the Eternal Being, above cause and word, for there was not word before The Word; and on the other hand for our sakes also Becoming, that He Who gives us our being might also give us our Well-being, or rather might restore us by His Incarnation, when we had by wickedness fallen from well-being. The name Theophany is given to it in reference to the Manifestation, and that of Birthday in respect of His Birth.
As an aside, in the "the more things change, the more they stay the same" department, I found this passage from that same sermon somewhat enlightening:
quote: ...Therefore let us keep the Feast, not after the manner of a heathen festival, but after a godly sort; not after the way of the world, but in a fashion above the world; not as our own, but as belonging to Him Who is ours, or rather as our Master's; not as of weakness, but as of healing; not as of creation, but of re-creation.
And how shall this be? Let us not adorn our porches; nor arrange dances, nor decorate the streets; let us not feast the eye, not enchant the ear with music, nor enervate the nostrils with perfume, not prostitute the taste, nor indulge the touch, those roads that are so prone to evil and entrances for sin; let us not be effeminate in clothing soft and flowing, whose beauty consists in its uselessness, nor with the glittering of gems or the sheen of gold or the tricks of colour, belying the beauty of nature, and invented to do despite unto the image of God. Not in rioting and drunkenness, with which are mingled, I know well, chambering and wantonness, since the lessons which evil teachers give are evil. Let us not appraise the bouquet of wines, the kickshaws of cooks, the great expense of unguents; and let us not strive to outdo each other in temperance, and this while others are hungry and in want, who are made of the same clay and in the same manner.
Later the Church decided to separate the feasts of the Nativity from Epiphany. In the west, the January 6 Epiphany remained as a day to celebrate the adoration of the Magi; the Eastern Church commemorate the Baptism of the Lord on that day (but it seems to have moved the Adoration of the Magi to Dec. 25 as well, at least as judged by the festal hymns of that day).
The Armenian church, btw, still keeps January 6 as the combined celebration of the Nativity and Epiphany; I don't know about the other "Oriental" (i.e., non-Chalcedonian) churches, though.
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