How is Epiphany traditionally celebrated? When does holy Christian festival start?

Epiphany starts on Thursday, January 6, but people will get their celebrations underway from tonight.

January 6 is a special date in the Christmas story as it’s when people celebrate how a star led the Magi – also known as the Three Kings or the Wise Men – to visit the baby Jesus after he had been born.

The term ‘Epiphany’ derives from the Greek word meaning “to reveal”, as it is when the baby Jesus was ‘revealed’ to the world.

Consequently, this is why you might hear people say they’ve had an epiphany after they’ve just realised something.

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The celebrations commemorate the journey the three wise men are said to have taken to present the baby Jesus with gifts.

Spain and many countries in Latin America traditionally exchange Christmas gifts on Epiphany.

Group swims are also used in some countries as a way of celebrating the holy festival.

People in the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Greece and Russia all swim en masse at Epiphany.

Other traditions include buying cakes known as Roscón in Spain, or Galette des Rois in France.

In Mexico, a cake known as Rosca de Reyes is eaten with a figure of the baby Jesus hidden inside. Whoever finds the figure is then known as Jesus’ godparent for the year.

In Austria, some people write in chalk over their front door as a reminder of the Wise Men that visited the baby Jesus, while in Belgium children often dress as the three wise men and do something similar to trick or treating – singing songs to receive money or sweets.

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