The Christian holiday of Epiphany is set to take place in 2016 on Wednesday. The Feast of the Epiphany marks the end of the 12 Days of Christmas and is a Christian celebration of the revelation of birth of Jesus and the visit of the three wise men.
The holiday is also known as Theophany, Three Kings Day and El Dia de los Tres Reyes, and is centered on the Biblical story of the three kings, or wise men, visiting a newborn Jesus with gifts, found in the Gospel of Matthew 2:1-12. In the story the three Magi go searching for the "King of the Jews," under the direction of King Herod who was relayed a prophecy that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him,” directed Herod in the Bible. The three wise men find Jesus, to whom they deliver gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh before returning home, avoiding Herod after receiving a warning in a dream.
Christians across the world celebrate Epiphany in different ways. Roman Catholic and Protestant Christianity focuses more on the Magi story, while Eastern Christians center celebrations on Jesus' baptism, according to the Huffington Post.
The holiday is observed by blessing the home, blessing water, exchanging gifts and preparing a feast, often featuring "King Cake." In parts of Europe the Epiphany celebration is considered at least as important as Christmas.
In the United States, one of the biggest celebrations takes place in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Some 20,000 parishioners, locals and spectators are expected to show up for the 109th observance, often dubbed the largest in the Western Hemisphere, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The marquee event for the Greek Orthodox celebration is the blessing and throwing of the cross into the waters of Spring Bayou.
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