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Epiphany (Greek epiphaneia, “appearance”), feast celebrated on January 6 by the Anglican, Eastern, and Roman Catholic churches. The feast originated, and is still recognized in the Eastern Church, as the anniversary of the baptism of Christ. In the Western churches, Epiphany commemorates principally the revelation to the Gentiles of Jesus Christ as the Savior, as portrayed by the coming of the Three Wise Men (see Matthew 2:1-12). In both the Eastern and Western churches the feast secondarily commemorates the marriage at Cana (see John 2:1-11), at which Christ performed his first miracle. Epiphany, known to have been observed earlier than ad 194, is older than Christmas and has always been a festival of the highest rank. The eve of Epiphany is called Twelfth Night, and the day itself is sometimes referred to as Twelfth Day. In England, the sovereign commemorates the day by offering gold, frankincense, and myrrh at the altar in the Chapel Royal, at Saint James's Palace. In the Eastern church, at Epiphany, the holy water is blessed, a ritual customarily taking place on Holy Saturday (the day before Easter) in the Roman Catholic church.

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