The Christian holiday of Epiphany, or Three Kings Day, signals the end of the 12 days of Christmas, and it is celebrated each year Jan. 6. While the festival, which marks the arrival of the three wise men or magi to Jesus of Nazareth's birthplace in Bethlehem, is not universally celebrated by Christians in the U.S., in many cities and towns in Spain, Italy and throughout the world, Epiphany is a national holiday when most stores and businesses close down.
As Three Kings Day is not a national holiday in the U.S., almost all businesses and offices are open, including federal buildings. Grocery stores, shopping malls and other commercial centers will also remain open unless owners of private business chose to close for personal religious reasons.
According to the Bible, the three magi who came to pay homage to Jesus at the time of his birth in Bethlehem had to travel far in order to reach the city, finally arriving 12 days after his birth by following a star in the western sky. The day now marks the end of the Christmas season in Christianity, and is celebrated with a special mass.
— Piero BENEDETTO (@pieroBENEDETTO) January 5, 2016
As one of the largest Catholic nations in Europe and with its close proximity to the seat of the Catholic Church in Rome, Italy celebrates Epiphany as a national holiday, where the feast is referred to as "La Befana." As traditional lore goes, La Befana is an ugly old woman riding a broom who delivers candy in stockings to children who have behaved and deposits a lump of coal for those who haven't, similar to Santa Claus. While some cultural sites including museums will remain open, many businesses and public buildings will close.
For many Christians in Puerto Rico, Epiphany is in fact a more important holiday than Christmas itself, though both are celebrated with toys and festivals. Almost all stores, grocers and many restaurants close down on the island in celebration.