Tuesday Trivia: "Old Christmas" and Epiphany

J. H. Osborne • Jan 1, 2019 at 3:30 PM

Have you ever heard of "Old Christmas?" Is it the same as Epiphany? For this week's Tuesday Trivia, we tried to find some answers about that:

• Epiphany is Jan. 6, the 12th day after Christmas as recognized by most Western Christian churches. That's the day before Orthodox Churches' Christmas Day, Jan. 7 — which some call "Old Christmas."

• It's called "Old Christmas" because it represents the Orthodox Churches' adherence to the Julian calendar. In the 1500s, Pope Gregory XIII created the Gregorian calendar we use today. It established Christmas as Dec. 25.

• "The Twelve Days of Christmas" made famous in song begin on Dec. 25 and conclude on Jan. 5, the day before Epiphany.

• England and its colonies adopted the Gregorian calendar in the mid-1700s.

• It is said that early settlers of the Appalachian region did not take well to that change and many, while celebrating on Dec. 25, also continued to recognize "Old Christmas."

• In England, however, Jan. 6 came to mark the end of the Christmas season, or "Christmastide."

• In The United Methodist Church and many other Western traditions, Epiphany marks the arrival of the Magi from the East who bring gifts of devotion to the Christ Child, revealing his divinity to the world.

• In some Christian traditions, Epiphany celebrates the day Jesus is baptized: His divinity and role on earth are revealed as he comes up out of the water, the Holy Spirit descends on him and the Witness in Heaven says, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

• The liturgical color for Epiphany Day is white.

• The word Epiphany comes from the Greek word epiphania, which means divine manifestation, and it references a visit of a god to earth.

Sources: www.umc.org; "Lessons of Epiphany" by Yvette Moore at www.unitedmethodistwomen.org.

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